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Supporting the Use of Data through Professional Development

This resource guide, developed by the American Institutes for Research, highlights four states’ efforts in integrating NRS-related professional development on data use into their accountability and professional development systems.
Author(s): 
American Institutes for Research
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation: 
American Institutes for Research
Published: 
2010
Resource Type: 
Product
Number of Pages: 
41
Product Type: 
Abstract: 

This resource guide, developed by the American Institutes for Research, highlights four states’ efforts in integrating NRS-related professional development on data use into their accountability and professional development systems. Policies and practices in New York, Texas, Ohio, and Kansas were studied by interviewing state directors and staff responsible for accountability and NRS-related professional development. State reports, documents, and related technical assistance resources were also examined as part of this study.

Several common themes and ‘lessons learned’ in studying promising practices in these states are discussed. Performance-based funding, report cards, needs assessments, and data quality certification checklists are several of the policies and procedures that impact data-related professional development. Professional development content and delivery mechanisms are also described in the guide and detailed descriptions for practices in each state are provided in the Appendices.

What the Experts Say: 

Expert Reviewer 1: This resource may be particularly beneficial to state leadership and professional development providers; however, local program administrators may also find helpful guidance here. American institutes for Research has summarized efforts by four states, to systematically provide professional development on data quality and utilization for purposes of program improvement. This report specifically addresses the variety of state policies, professional development delivery, and lessons learned in each of the states. However, all of the states in the study provided a similar context created by state leadership to emphasize the importance of accountability. Readers will note that both small and large states are represented in the study and the approaches taken are adaptable. The lessons learned sections are particularly valuable.

Expert Reviewer 2: The resource has particularly interesting sections. For each state, the resource describes the state’s leadership and vision, commitment to dedicated data staff, access to data, and a system of professional development support on data use. It describes each of the four state’s data systems, rules for data entry, program improvement initiatives, and modes of professional development delivery. The various models of professional development delivery could be particularly useful for other states’ professional development systems to show what works, how other states overcome challenges, and how incorporating data into professional development provides results. All of the states in the study were using or moving toward performance-based funding. Data use, analysis, and a system for providing feedback were inherent in all states. As changes occur in NRS requirements and reporting, the need for ongoing training will become even more important.

Although an aggregate of the commonalities among the states was not provided in the guide, several common ideas emerged. These included the importance of state leadership emphasizing the benefits and use of quality data, holding staff accountable through the use of data, identifying best practices from other states, integrating data into all professional development events, and including data in all requests for proposals.

Program administrators who are not part of a state system that mandates data usage can learn from this resource by reviewing the various models described in the guide and finding ways to integrate data use and analysis into their own program improvement efforts.

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