Professional Development at Research for Better Teaching

Skillful Data Use

Data offer us one of the powerful levers educators have to improve student achievement, and yet they remain woefully underutilized. To bridge the gap between the data that schools have and the results that they want for students, RBT partners with schools and districts to develop high-performing data teams (usually school-wide) and professional learning communities (teams of teachers who teach the same grade and/or content), who are skilled in using data collaboratively, continuously, and effectively to directly impact students and their learning. View this video to learn more about RBT's approach to data.

As the graphic illustrates, we believe that the bridge between data and results is collaborative inquiry. When educators work together to identify a common student-learning problem/goal and generate and test out solutions together through rigorous use of data and ongoing reflective dialogue, they improve results for students. 

But collaborative inquiry is easier said than done. That’s why RBT focuses on building the leadership and capacity of data coaches and teacher leaders to:

  • Facilitate data teams and professional learning communities (PLCs)
  • Promote data and assessment literacy
  • Engage in productive item, error, and criteria analysis
  • Apply collaborative inquiry and dialogue skills
  • Strengthen cultural proficiency and the growth mindset

A second critical support for collaborative inquiry is structured collaboration. Teams with stable membership, a regular time and place to meet (weekly), and inquiry process and protocols to follow use their precious meeting time productively. And they are engaged in frequent data use, using multiple sources of data before, during, and after each instructional unit, and drilling into these in as much detail as possible.

The last critical step across the bridge is instructional improvement. Nothing changes if we don’t change what we teach, how we teach, how we assess, and how we communicate high expectations to students based on what we learn from data analysis.

These four critical supports for collaborative inquiry – leadership and capacity, structured collaboration, frequent and in-depth data use, and instructional improvement – all rest on a foundation of a particular kind of school culture, characterized by trust, a shared commitment to equity, and collaboration. View this video series to learn more about each of these stages. In addition, RBT offers a variety of products and services aimed at helping schools and districts build strong bridges that connect data to results. 

"...nothing short of a breakthrough in the field – the go-to guide for schools that want to strengthen their will and skill to serve each and every child.”

CampbellJones, The Cultural Proficiency Journey: Moving Beyond Ethical Barriers Toward Profound School Change (2010)