Book Review

Data Wise: A Step-by-Step Guide To Using Assessment Results To Improve Teaching and Learning

Edited by Kathryn Parker Boudett, Elizabeth A. City and Richard J. Murnane, Harvard Education Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2005, 212 pp. with index, $59.95 hardcover, $29.95 softcover

The familiar sentiment that schools are "data rich and information poor" has never been more true with the current mammoth state and federal accountability mandates. In Data Wise: A Step-by-Step Guide To Using Assessment Results To Improve Teaching and Learning, co-editors Kathryn Boudett, Elizabeth City and Richard Murnane offer the reader a logical and comprehensive approach to remedying this problem facing school systems.

Data Wise walks the reader through an eight-stage process of how examining school data can lead to improvements in student performance, instruction and school climate.

Fictional dialogue from a school team at the beginning of each chapter sets the tone for discussing each step. These conversations will sound familiar to any administrator who has worked through the issues of applying information from a variety of data sources to influence student success and instructional change.

The inclusion of effective tables and graphs help the reader examine the use of data at each step and could be adapted for use in one's own district. The chapters on building assessment literacy and examining instruction stand out. Often overlooked in the desire to speed up the process of reform, the discussion of how to improve the assessment knowledge of teams should be a part of any district's process of analyzing data. The discussion about examining instruction focuses on sound and clear practices that tie the use of data to its primary source of intervention, instructional practice.

The book is well organized and would serve as a great tool for school and district improvement teams. Of special interest to superintendents is the chapter devoted to the role of the central office in becoming data wise.

Reviewed by Lane B. Mills, assistant superintendent for accountability and technology, Wilson County Schools, Wilson, N.C.