Means, B., Padilla, C., and Gallagher, L. (2010). Use of Education Data at the Local Level: From Accountability to Instructional Improvement. Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, U. S. Department of Education.
The use of student data systems to improve education and help students succeed is a national priority. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as reauthorized in 2002, calls for the collection, analysis, and use of student achievement data to improve school outcomes. Data systems are expected to play an integral role in improving educational decision making at all levels—including that of the classroom teacher. The U.S. Department of Education has provided support for major improvements in the quality of state data systems to enable longitudinal analysis of student data and linkage between student outcomes and other education system variables. These improved systems are supporting educational research and decision making at the state level, but at the local level, district and school staff work with district rather than state data systems. If data-driven decision making is to become an effective tool for improving the instruction provided to students, policymakers need a clear understanding of these data systems used at the local level and of the decision-making processes in schools and districts.