Book Review                                           Page 44-45


Transforming Teaching and

Learning Through Data-Driven

Decision Making


by Ellen B. Mandinach and Sharnell S. Jackson, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2012, 259 pp. with index, $ 36.95 softcover


The authors of Transforming Teaching and Learning Through Data-Driven Decision Making state their book is intended for “classroom teachers, school and district administrators, pre-service teacher candidates, social psychologists, undergraduates, graduate students in teaching and administrative programs, continuing education courses, and other educators who are tasked with using data to inform their work and practice.”

And that just might be its biggest drawback. In attempting to cover the waterfront of data usage, Ellen B. Mandinach, a senior researcher at the WestEd consulting firm, and Sharnell S. Jackson, a consultant and former teacher, fail to fully satisfy any particular group, especially a sophisticated audience of veteran superintendents.

Topics include the context, research and technology of data-driven decision making; strengthening “pedagogical data literacy,” defined by the authors as the ability to transform data knowledge into instructional actions that produce the targeted learning objectives; building a school culture to use data; and differentiated instruction based on formative assessments. Lots of data analysis models are described, and examples are given of appropriate and inappropriate data use.

The role of the superintendent to set, communicate and model the vision for how educators in a district should use data for continuous improvement, and not just for accountability, is stressed throughout.

Most of the content should be familiar. District and school leaders might benefit the most from the discussion in the closing “learning from examples” chapter of thorny topics such as triangulating data, “bubble kids” and what should happen when data conflict.
There is an extensive bibliography. I suggest checking the resources in the Institute of Education Sciences’ guide on using data to support instructional decision making, on which the book’s authors collaborated.

Reviewed by Ronald S. Thomas, associate director, Center for Leadership in Education, Towson University, Baltimore, Md. 


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