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Teachers College Columbia University

Leading With Evidence in Schools: Data and Research Literacy

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Schools today are awash in data, from grades, to test scores, to discipline reports and attendance to name just a few. Additionally, educators around the world are continually urged to use evidence and best practices around “what works” to inform their decisions in schools. But how are teachers and school leaders to know which forms of data and assessments are most useful to their practice in their schools with their students? How do you find evidence on interventions that not only work, but will work for your teachers and for your students? And how can teachers and school leaders best make sense of the data in schools to bring educators together around the data and assessments that matter most to your school to help build capacity, trust, and collaboration around using evidence together in schools for instructional improvement?

Come join us in this four-week interactive online course to learn how to turn data into evidence-based decisions in schools.

  • 4-week duration
  • 20 hours total time commitment
  • Opportunities to engage with like-minded teachers and leaders on structured discussion boards
  • Weekly Quizzes to check for understanding
  • An optional integrated project

In this course, you will learn

  • How to inform your decisions with valid and reliable forms of data
  • How to critique and select the best forms of assessments for the goals that your teachers have for your students
  • How to select the best practices from “what works” to choose interventions that have been shown to work in schools like yours

The course is taught by Teachers College, Columbia University Professor Alex J. Bowers, who is a leading expert in data and evidence use in schools, data driven decision making, and education leadership data analytics.

During this course you will network with other like-minded educators who are interested in building their skills in data, assessment and research literacy, through learning together using videos, readings, quizzes, and a writing assignment in which you find, critique and apply an intervention to your school.

Course Outline

This course is designed to take students on average five hours per week for four weeks.

Week 1: Introduction to Leading with Evidence in Schools

Course Materials: Readings, Videos, Brief Check-for-Understanding Quizzes

Assessment: 3 page paper that integrates the first readings and videos with your current issues in your school.

Week 2: Data Literacy and Assessment Literacy – Validity and Reliability for Testing

Course Materials: Readings, Videos, Brief Check-for-Understanding Quizzes

Assessment: Online quiz

Week 3: Research Literacy – Validity and Reliability for Research

Course Materials: Readings, Videos, Brief Check-for-Understanding Quizzes

Assessment: Structured written discussion topics online with teams of like-minded teachers and leaders

Week 4: Bringing it all together – How to Find, Critique, Apply and Assess Interventions That Work in Your School

Course Materials: Readings, Videos, Brief Check-for-Understanding Quizzes

Assessment: Structured written discussion topics online with teams of like-minded teachers and leaders.

Optional Stretch-Goal Final Assessment: Critiquing and applying what works to your school (5 page paper)

Who should attend

This course is designed for current or aspiring teachers, school leaders, and district or state leaders globally who are looking to enhance and hone their skills and capacity around data and evidence use for improving instruction in their schools.

Teams of teachers or schools looking to learn together for their professional development around building their skills for evidence use in their schools are also encouraged to enroll (school teams can be matched within the course upon request).

Additionally, for teachers and school leaders looking for a bridge between their undergraduate or graduate education and additional advanced degrees, this course can provide a bridge for students looking to deepen their practice in evidence use as they prepare to apply to a graduate school program, with a special emphasis on work in the United States.

There are no prerequisites for taking this course.


Educational Background Ph.D. in Educational Administration - Michigan State University (2007) Master of Science in Molecular Biology, Biochemistry & Microbiology - The Pennsylvania State University (1997) Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry; Secondary Major: Chemistry - Michigan State Univer...
Yilin Pan is currently a post-doctoral researcher jointly hired by the Department of Educational Policy and Social Analysis and the Department of Organization Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. She specializes in cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analysis, decision-making in r...
Sarah Weeks is a Ph.D. student in the Education Leadership program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Sarah’s interests include how teachers, students and school leaders use of student learning assessments and other data sources inform classroom and school improvement efforts. She is parti...
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