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Advancing equity in accountability and organizational cultures of data use

Nora Gannon-Slater (Department of Performance and Data Analytics, Breakthrough Charter Schools, Cleveland, Ohio, USA)
Priya G. La Londe (Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Georgetown University, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)
Hope L. Crenshaw (Department of Education Policy Organization and Leadership, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA)
Margaret E. Evans (Department of Educational Studies, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois, USA)
Jennifer C. Greene (Department of Educational Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA)
Thomas A. Schwandt (Department of Educational Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 3 July 2017

735

Abstract

Purpose

Data use cultures in schools determine data use practices. Such cultures can be muted by powerful macro accountability and organizational learning cultures. Further, strong equity-oriented data use cultures are challenging to establish. The purpose of this paper is to engage these cultural tensions.

Design/methodology/approach

The data discourse and decisions of four grade-level teams in two elementary schools in one district were studied through observation of 62 grade-level meetings over the course of a year. The observations focused on “data talk,” defined as the structure and content of team conversations about interim student performance data.

Findings

Distinct macro cultures of accountability and organizational learning existed in the two schools. The teams’ own data use cultures partly explained the absence of a focus on equity, and none of the teams used student performance data to make instructional decisions in support of the district’s equity aims. Leadership missed opportunities to cultivate an equity-focused data use culture.

Practical implications

School leaders who advocate that equity importantly guides data use routines, and can anticipate how cultures of accountability or organizational learning “show up” in data use conversations, will be better prepared to redirect teachers’ interpretations of data and clarify expectations of equity reform initiatives.

Originality/value

This study is novel in its concept of “data talk,” which provided a holistic but nuanced account of data use practices in grade-level meetings.

Keywords

Citation

Gannon-Slater, N., La Londe, P.G., Crenshaw, H.L., Evans, M.E., Greene, J.C. and Schwandt, T.A. (2017), "Advancing equity in accountability and organizational cultures of data use", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 55 No. 4, pp. 361-375. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEA-09-2016-0108

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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