Publication Date: June 22, 2018
Data use in teaching is at the heart of current educational policy and school improvement efforts. Dispelling magical thinking that it is a simple solution to underachieving schools, this timely book explores what data use in teaching really is, how it works in theory and practice, and why it sometimes fails to achieve expected goals.
Drawing on their research in nine of New York City’s most poverty-impacted schools, the authors dive deep into school systems and routines, as well as into teachers’ practices and students’ experiences. They also zoom out to capture the larger currents that have made this school reform strategy so prominent today. Each chapter includes a discussion of a new direction that schools and teachers can take to ensure that data use in teaching actually spurs growth in learning.
This resource extracts lessons from both chaotic and productive data implementation in order to inform practice and fulfill hopes for better schooling, richer teaching, and deeper learning.
Joseph P. McDonald is emeritus professor of teaching and learning at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and coauthor of The Power of Protocols, Third Edition. Nora M. Isacoff is a cognitive psychologist and learning specialist in private practice. Dana Karin is a middle and high school teacher now pursuing a PhD in teaching and learning at New York University.
“McDonald, Isacoff, and Karin offer a rich and authentic look into how student performance data are currently understood and how they are being used by teachers and school leaders in schools serving many students living in poverty. Additionally, they offer some general guidance for those school leaders aiming to engage in more effective related practices. In doing so, they communicate well the notion that effective data use in teaching is a highly worthwhile, but also a highly complex and resource-intensive, endeavor. We anticipate that Data and Teaching: Moving Beyond Magical Thinking to Effective Practice will be an engaging and thought-provoking read for school leaders looking to more effectively integrate data into their teaching practices.”
― Teachers College Record
“ Data and Teaching: Moving Beyond Magical Thinking to Effective Practice is a guide created especially for professionals and policymakers in the field of education working to improve underachieving schools…highly recommended, especially for public and college library education shelves.”
-- Midwest Book Review
“Data-informed instruction is likely to miss the mark without room for teacher innovation and design. By combining rigorous observation of educators and administrators, and innovative ideas around data use, the authors bring this notion to life. They provide a detailed and fascinating account of how distributive leadership, collaboration, and professional learning can greatly and positively influence teachers’ effective use of data in teaching, while promoting educational equity.”
—Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of Teachers
“Through rigorous and revelatory portraits this wise and probing book documents the ways that teachers use various data sources to inform and shape their pedagogy, to deepen their knowledge of their students, and to nourish relationships of trust and commitment that are at the heart of learning. Data and Teaching offers a rare and subtle blend of generous witnessing, discerning analysis, and practical directives for educational innovation and improvement.”
—Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, professor, Harvard University
"An authentic and empirical analysis of a current fad–data-based decisionmaking–anchored in a careful and sophisticated conceptualizing of teaching as a practice. There is no magical thinking in this analysis, but rather a careful and systematic exploration of how teaching might and can be informed by a new mantra for improvement: data-based decisionmaking. Essential reading for anyone committed to improving teaching as either a practical or an intellectual matter."
—James Spillane, professor, Northwestern University
“Finally, a book on using data to improve schools that goes beyond a theoretical framework and explores what really happens when teachers try to do this work. This book uses case studies to illuminate the conditions where data lifts teaching and learning, and where data actually causes harm. Every school and district should read it.”
—Ron Berger, chief academic officer, EL Education
Tentative Table of Contents
PART I: THE BASIC OF DATA USE AND TEACHING
Chapter 1. What Is Data?
Levels of Data
What Educators Talk about when They Talk about Data
Validity and Efficiency in Data Use
Genuinely Big Data
New Direction: Building a Data-Wise Culture in Every School
Chapter 2. What Is Teaching?
Deep Dynamics of Teaching
Surface Behaviors of Teaching
New Direction: Learning to Rehearse Teaching
Chapter 3. What Is Data Use in Teaching?
An Innovation's Theory of Action
Origins of U.S. Data Use in Teaching
Data Use in Teaching in New York City
Teaching in a Material World
Data Use and Poverty in New York City
A Teacher's Voice
New Direction: Curating the Material World
PART II: DEEP DIVES INTO DATA USE IN ACTION
Chapter 4. Complicated Plumbing at the Heights
Spreadsheet after Spreadsheet
Observation of a Lesson
Teaching in Centers
The Data Coach
Is There a "We" at Heights?
A Trust Leak
New Direction: Distributing Leadership
Chapter 5. Action Space at Bayside
Higher Up in the Bayside System
The Bayside Action Space
New Direction: Encouraging Student Agency
Chapter 6. A Vortex at South Falls
South Falls Elementary School
Teaching in a Vortex
New Direction: Building a Teacher Learning Community
Chapter 7. Deep Dive, Implementation at the Waterfront
Waterfront Middle School
New Direction: Expanding Space and Time for Learning
Conclusion: Major Findings
Appendix: Our Own Data (and Data Use)
About the Authors