An argument can be made that educational leaders have always had “data” of some kind available to them when making decisions intended to improve teaching and learning. Effective leaders gathered whatever information they could readily access, and then drawing on accumulated experience, intuition, and political acumen, they chose the wisest course of action to pursue.
The data they collected was likely impressionistic and rarely systematic, complete, or sufficiently nuanced to carry the weight of important decisions. Converging trends have shifted the basic terms of this equation, creating new possibilities for leaders to attain a deeper level of understanding about the complexities of teaching and learning, and to learn how to maximize educators’ efforts to meet students’ needs. This report presents some examples.