The Roles and Practices of Student Services Staff as Data-Driven Instructional Leaders

WCER Working Paper No. 2007-1

Richard Halverson and Christopher N. Thomas

February 2007, 22 pp.

ABSTRACT: Instructional leadership in K–12 schools is changing dramatically as schools seek to satisfy the demands of high-stakes accountability policies. In this paper, the authors argue that the need to use achievement data effectively pushes instructional leaders to adapt existing structures and expertise to facilitate data-driven decision making. The discussion draws on the results of a 5-year National Science Foundation–funded study of how school leaders create socio-technical systems to help teachers work with student achievement data. The data, collected from two schools, demonstrate how good leaders have turned to the practices and the expertise of student services staff in their efforts to develop schools that use data effectively. Thus, this paper discusses (a) the press for data-driven program design, (b) the precedent of student-level intervention created by special education practices, and (c) the role student services staff can play as data-savvy instructional leaders. The emergence of a new role for student services staff and their practices points toward the next step in instructional leadership.

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keywords: Instructional Leadership; Data-Driven Decision Making; Student Services