This page is a compilation of ideas for implementing data teams in schools and resources from around the web. It offers suggestions for first steps and the resources can be tailored to meet the needs of the school/district.

“In order to build success in schools we need to see the data not as numbers but as the names and faces of every single student.”

~Sharratt and Fullan

What is a Data Team?

(District Data Team Toolkit (n.d.))

Finding Time

The website lists over 150 schools that have created time for teachers to collaborate in ways that don’t require the school to be shut down, don’t cost money, and don’t result in significant loss of instructional time. The following document shares some of the steps schools and districts have taken to create time for collaboration.

Time for Collaboration Ideas (Making Time for Collaboration, 2010)

Members of the Data Team

There are several possible methods for developing a data team:

Department heads/ Grade level lead teachers - these people would be responsible for bringing the findings back to the other team/department members.
Random faculty members based on interest or ability to use data. Suggestions for selection can be found in this document from Doing What Works.

Getting Started

Create a Data Inventory - The data team identifies and summarizes all data available in the school. The following questions can guide the inventory process:
What external, internal, and student-specific assessments do we administer?
What content areas are assessed with each?
What other student-specific information do we gather?
When is each type of data collected?
How can teachers find these data?
How are the data used now?
What might be a more effective use of the data?
What data do we wish we had?
The inventory can be maintained electronically for easy access and updates.
Boudett and Moody (2005)

Taking Inventory of Data Taking Inventory of Data (n.d.)

Getting Started Questions - Once your team is established the questions in the following document should be collectively answered.

(Barnhardt, 2004)

Developing Team Norms -

Learning Forward Article
Developing Norms Activity (DuFour & DuFour, 2012)

There is no value in assessing students if it does not impact learning and instruction.

~Fullan, Hill & Crevola, 2006

The Data Cycle

external image rti-collaborative-problem-solving.jpg

1. Identify the Problem

Are we “walking the talk” of our mission—putting our goals into action? Look for data that would provide evidence of the key phrases.
Does the school have smoldering issues that need to be viewed more objectively? Look for evidence to confirm or contradict the prevailing positions. (Holcomb, 2012)

2. Gather Data

What is available and in use?
What is available and not in use?

Drill down for student learning data related to the most essential concepts and skills.
List all change initiatives under way in your school.
  • Which are working as intended?
  • Which seem to be stuck? Why might that be?
  • Identify existing efforts to stop, refine, sustain, or replace current efforts (Holcomb)

3. Develop and Implement the Plan

Developing SMART Goals

SMART goals: Goals that are Strategic and Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-­oriented, and Time­bound (ONeill & Conzemius, 2006)

Why do we need SMART Goals? (DuFour & DuFour, 2012)

4. Monitor and Evaluate the Plan

Identify indicators of implementation.
Provide professional development needed for implementation.
Mutually agree on how data will be gathered to monitor implementation.
Use data to identify internal expertise, respond to individual needs, and adjust timeliness and professional development plans. (Holcomb)

5. Determine Next Steps

(Baeder, n.d.)

Topics for Professional Development

How to develop diagnostic assessments for your class
How to adjust the content and approach used in your class in light of student data
How to identify types of data to collect to monitor school progress against goals for improvement
Proper interpretation of test score data
The mechanics of using the electronic data system (eMetric, PVAAS, CDTs)
How to formulate questions that can be addressed with data
Techniques for collaborating with colleagues on the use of data

(Implementing Data-Informed Decision Making in Schools: Teacher Access, Supports and Use, 2009)


Baeder, J. (n.d.). Data Team Cycle Process Reflection. Retrieved January 29, 2015, from

Bernhardt, V. (2004). Data analysis for continuous school improvement(2nd ed.). Larchmont, NY: Eye On Education.

Boudett, K. P., & Moody, L. (2005). Organizing for collaborative work. In K. P. Boudett, E. A. City, & R. J. Murnane (Eds.), Datawise: A step-by-step guide to using assessment results to improve teaching and learning (pp. 11-28). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Conzemius, A., & Neill, J. (2001). Building shared responsibility for student learning. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Creating a Data Plan | The Doing What Works Library. (2011, January 1). Retrieved January 27, 2015, from

District Data Team Toolkit (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2015, from .

DuFour, R. (2006). Learning by doing: A handbook for professional learning communities at work. Bloomington, Ind.: Solution Tree.

DuFour, R., & DuFour, R. (2012). Essentials for principals the school leader's guide to professional learning communities at work. Bloomington, Ind.: Solution Tree Press.

Holcomb, E. (2012). Essentials for principals data-based decision making (3rd ed.). Bloomington, Ind.: Solution Tree Press.

Making Time for Collaboration (2010). Retrieved January 29, 2015, from,77

Richardson, J. (1999). Norms put the ‘Golden Rule’ into practice for groups. Retrieved January 27, 2015, from

Taking Inventory of Data (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2015, from

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Implementing Data-Informed Decision Making in Schools: Teacher Access, Supports and Use, Washington, D.C., 2009.