Leading Inquiry in Schools: Examining Mental Models of Data-Informed Practice
In order to learn more about the ways in which educators in various roles construe “data” and “data use,” we conducted a study in a small school district in central Texas, collecting survey data from n=154 educators in August 2012. Analyses revealed that while all educators reported using some form of evidence to inform practice, the terms used to describe that evidence varied. Further, more teacher participants attached mixed connotations to the terms, as compared to district leaders and campus leaders. Teachers whose survey responses suggested broader, more improvement-oriented mental models of data use reported slightly higher levels of commitment to data-informed practice. We review models of data-rich collaborative inquiry that provide approaches similar to “data-driven decision making” but which may avoid accountability- and compliance-laden language that appears to heighten anxiety among some teachers.