Using Student and Teacher Survey Data to Improve Schools
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CitationSeeskin, Alexander. 2015. Using Student and Teacher Survey Data to Improve Schools. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractAmid a growing debate over the use of standardized test scores, states and districts across the country have begun using alternative measures of school quality, including surveys of students and teachers. As a result, many schools now have access to troves of diagnostic data on student and teacher perception. However, with few established practices for analyzing or planning with survey data, there has been wide variation in how schools actually use their results.
I completed my residency at UChicago Impact, a non-profit connected to the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute. UChicago Impact administers the 5Essentials Survey, based on the research in Organizing Schools for Improvement (Bryk et al, 2010), in nearly 5,000 schools nationwide. My strategic project was to design and pilot a series of workshops to help teams of teachers and administrators use their 5Essentials data to improve the organization of their schools and, ultimately, student outcomes.
My research identified two core problems that often prevent practitioners from using survey data effectively: (1) the complex social problems rooted in survey data require brave conversations, unintuitive planning, and collective action, making the data hard to influence; (2) the infrequent administration and release of survey data make it difficult for schools to collect new data and adjust their actions accordingly.
I found that as a result of attending the workshops, most teams were able to have productive conversations about their schools and coalesce around a plan for improvement. However, when it came time to implement their plans, the teams faced obstacles around accountability, coherence, and assessment of impact. Moreover, it is unclear that any of the actions that teams did implement will lead to improvements in student outcomes.
Given the relatively limited nature of the this intervention – eight total hours of workshops – these findings suggest that the analysis of student and teacher survey data may be an effective way to help schools begin to build trust between stakeholders. However, in order for survey data to drive sustained, measurable improvement, the reporting infrastructure needs to become more nimble, and leaders have to balance support and accountability, while integrating survey data with other data sources and initiatives.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:16645024