This study addressed a problem of practice in a majority-minority suburban school district with a high percentage of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Specifically, the problem of historically low sixth-grade reading achievement on the state assessment was investigated. The study took place in two phases. Both phases were built on the improvement science framework and used a mixed-methods approach. Quantitative sources included surveys of teachers, instructional coaches, and campus administrators and student achievement scores based on the Northwest Evaluation Association's (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) Growth reading assessment. Qualitative sources included focus groups and site walkthroughs. In the first phase, the district's data-driven decision-making (DDDM) system was evaluated to explore teachers' use of assessment data to make instructional decisions and the extent to which that use improved student reading outcomes. Findings revealed that teachers' attitudes and beliefs supported assessment data use. In addition, appropriate structures were in place at both the district and campus levels to encourage assessment data use. However, results also indicated that capacity, time, and an overwhelming amount of data hindered data use. Improvement opportunities included additional professional development offerings, assessment plan and protocol reviews, and team planning time for DDDM. In the study's second phase, the researcher designed and implemented a six-month professional learning intervention aimed at increasing middle school teachers' capacity for and frequency of DDDM specific to student assessment data by expanding the ability of instructional coaches to model, lead, and facilitate teachers' data use. Findings suggested an increase in the use of interim assessment data and significant improvement in student achievement. Furthermore, outcomes indicated a more positive association between campus DDDM engagement and sixth-grade student achievement than fifth-grade. However, a direct relationship between the intervention and student achievement was unclear due to survey limitations.

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Michael Odell, Ph.D., Christopher Thomas, Ph.D., Woonhee Sung, Ed.D., Karen Hickman, Ed.D.



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