2013 Steele Symposium - CEHD

The Role of Principals in Professional Learning Communities 
Buttram, J.L. & Farley-Ripple, E.N.
The purpose of this paper is to identify how principals shape the adoption and implementation of professional learning communities. The study employed a sequential mixed methods approach in which interviews, observations, and document analysis informed survey design. Teachers were surveyed in four elementary schools about the practices and supports they received in grade level professional learning communities. Qualitative and survey data reveal that principals influence both what teachers undertake in professional learning communities and how well they carry out these activities. The study was limited to a small sample of only four schools in two districts and relied primarily on principal and teacher self-reports. More work is needed to explore the role of principals in a broader sample as well as the relationship between district and building leadership. Findings are discussed in terms of what actions principals can undertake to sustain meaningful professional communities. This paper provides guidance on how principals can influence and support teacher collaboration.
PDF of article: Buttram & Farley-Ripple Leadership and Policy in Schools

Four Steps To Nurture PLCS
Buttram, J.L. & Farley-Ripple, E.N.
What role should principals play in professional learning communities (PLCs)? PLCs provide fertile ground for teams to build collective action through shared routines, yet it is not always clear what specific steps principals should take to nurture and support such collaborations. In 2010-2011, we spent time in four elementary schools in two Delaware districts to find out.
PDF of article: Buttram & Farley-Ripple NAESP

Harnessing the power of teacher networks: Understanding relationships within a school can help a principal leverage support for new ideas.
Farley-Ripple, E.N. & Buttram, J.L.
Lessons learned from Allegheny educators on the power of networks and capacity building for instructional improvement.
PDF of article:Farley-Ripple & Buttram Kappan Magazine

Developing collaborative data use through professional learning communities: Early lessons from Delaware
Farley-Ripple, E.N. & Buttram, J.L.
In 2010–2011 the Delaware Department of Education (DE DOE) mandated that all grade or subject area teachers have 90 min weekly to engage in professional learning communities (PLC) in which collaborative data use was the central activity. The purpose of this research is to learn from the early implementation experiences of four elementary schools in two districts, with particular attention to whether and how schools’ implementation fostered collaborative use of data. Findings suggest the mandate resulted in the establishment of scheduled collaborative time and teachers’ collaborative use of data in all schools. However, the nature of collaborative work and the ways in which data were employed varied in ways that relate to key school and district differences.
PDF of article:Farley-Ripple & Buttram Studies in Educational Evaluation

The Development of Capacity for Data Use: The Role of Teacher Networks in an Elementary School.
Farley-Ripple, E.N. & Buttram, J.L.
Amid calls for increased data use, there is little research or policy guidance for how to build schools’ capacity to leverage data to improve teaching and learning. Building on previous research highlighting the social nature of data use, we contend that in order to understand how capacity develops, research must focus on relationships and networks that support educators’ practice, conceptualizing capacity as socially-embedded. This paper explores the development of data use capacity in an elementary school through a social network approach. Findings reveal that data use networks are influenced by the larger professional structure of the school and may be productive in developing shared practices. This study illustrates several ways in which this approach can be valuable in understanding individual and school capacity for data use.
PDF of article: Farley-Ripple & Buttram Teachers College Record

Education Contracting and the Translation of Research into Practice: The Case of Data Coach Vendors in Delaware
Farley-Ripple, E.N.
Accountability puts demands on educational agencies that often exceed their capacity. As a result, a variety of educational organizations are contracted to design and implement policy. Programs and services offered by these contractors are not only instrumental in the process of mediating and implementing policy, but may also be instrumental in translating research into practice. To explore this issue, a case study is conducted using vendor proposals for Delaware’s Data Coach initiative. Data are analyzed through content and citation analyses to examine the degree and nature of research use by educational contractors. This research offers new directions for studies of research use in policy but also lessons for policymakers and practitioners that seek
the services of educational contractors.
PDF of article:Farley-Ripple International Journal of Educational Policy and Leadership

Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment
Black, P. & William, D.
Firm evidence shows that formative assessment is an essential component of classroom work and that its development can raise standards of achievement, Mr. Black and Mr. Wiliam point out. Indeed, they know of no other way of raising standards for which such a strong prima facie case can be made.
PDF of article: InsideBlackBox

Interventions Promoting Educators’ Use of Data: Research Insights and Gaps
Marsh, J.A.
In recent years, states, districts, schools, and external partners have recognized the need to proactively foster the use of data to guide educational decision-making and practice. Understanding that data alone will not guarantee use, individuals at all levels have invested in interventions to support better access to, interpretation of, and responses to data of all kinds. Despite the emergence of these efforts, there has been little systematic examination of research on such efforts.
PDF of article:Interventions Promoting Educators

Leading Data Use in Schools: Organizational Conditions and Practices at the School and District Levels
Anderson, S., Leithwood, K. & Strauss, T.
This study examined data use and conditions influencing data use by typical principals and teachers, as well as the relationship between data use and student performance. The analysis drew upon a multi-method investigation of leadership at the school, district, and state levels. The findings emphasize the leadership of principals in establishing data use purposes and expectations, opportunities, training, access to expertise, and follow-up actions. Principal and teacher use of data is strongly shaped by district leaders in the context of state accountability systems. Statistical evidence linking patterns of data use to achievement test results was weak, and limited to elementary schools.
PDF of article:leading data use in schools

Making the Most of Interim Assessment Data Lessons from Philadelphia
Research For Action
In this report, Research for Action (RFA) examines the use and impact of interim assessment data in elementary schools in the School District of Philadelphia. Philadelphia was, an early adopter of these assessments, implementing them district-wide in September 2003. The report presents findings from one of the first large-scale empirical studies on the use of interim assessments and their impact on student achievement.
PDF of article:Making the most of interim assessment data

Organizational consideration in establishing the Data-Informed District
Wayman, J.C., Jimerson, J.B., and Cho, V.
In the United States, effective data use is proving to be a vexing problem. In response, scholars have recently begun viewing this as a systemic problem, believing there are actions a school district may take to make data use more efficient and tenable throughout the organization. In this article, we add to the knowledge of how school organizations can more effectively use data for educational improvement. Through the lens of the Data-Informed District, we leverage the research on organizational improvement and data use to discuss 3 specific organizational areas in which these districts may improve: establishing common understandings, professional learning for using data, and computer data systems.
PDF of article:organizational considerations in data informed district