Our research indicates that a school beginning to implement a DDIS generally starts with the process of Data Acquisition. During this stage the school leader, usually with the aid of a team (e.g. leadership team, data team, etc.) works to bring together all of the existing assessment information about the school.
Gathering additional information to enhance understanding of how teaching and learning is taking place in the school is also usually a necessary part of this phase. In addition to conventional measures of student achievement (state and/or local standardized test scores), other data sources our schools utilized in Data Acquisition have included:
- Guidance information (student placement and behavioral records)
- Student demographics
- Classroom grades
- Data on, and observation of, teacher personnel
- Community survey data
- Budgetary information
- Master schedule and calendar information
- Curricular information
- Technological capacity
The Data Acquisition stage is usually the first stage as it enables school leaders to offer their teachers a more thorough picture of how the school is doing. Establishing a system for data storage and access (data warehousing) is also an aspect of the Data Acquisition phase.
One of our sample schools developed a robust system for recording student discipline data to address the influence of student behavior and school environment on teaching and learning. This program, which was titled the Respect and Responsibility (R&R) program, utilized a spreadsheet to record and track student behavioral data.
The school's principal reviewed the data during weekly meetings with the administrative team, and at any other time as needed. The R&R program is an example of a sophisticated local data collection system that does not include test scores and that serves to expand a DDIS by including student behavior.
Another one of our schools utilized the pre-existing data collection system in its Direct Instruction (DI) program to generate data about teaching and learning (for more information see the example under Program Alignment). In this manner the school leader was able to bring classroom teachers into the data collection process on a daily basis. By utilizing data from the DI program that was already in place, this school was able to gain powerful information about student performance within a framework that was already familiar to their teachers.