Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

First Advisor

Jan Yow


Classroom teachers in PK-12 grades in the U.S.A. are under immense pressure to use data from internal and external sources in order to make decisions expected to transform their instructional practice to hopefully meet the adequate yearly progress demanded by accountability policies. This exploratory case study was conducted on a midsized school district in the Midlands region of South Carolina. The study sought to explore what student data forms the district teachers had access to, and how they used those data in making instructional and other student-level decisions. The study also explored the teachers’ perceptions on their attitudes towards data, their self-efficacy in data use competency, perceived level of organizational support for data use capacity, and the level of trust in working with colleagues in data teams. The study also sought to explore what effect, if any, these perceptions had on increasing district teachers’ data use capacity towards enculturation. Results from 1056 teachers (56% response rate) who took a modified teacher data use survey (TDUS) (Wayman et al., 2016), showed that the district teachers had adequate access to all forms of data presented in the survey: readiness, achievement, formative, teacher generated and other data.

District teachers overwhelmingly showed preference for using their own data ahead for instructional decision-making. The top four actions, in order from first to fourth, with these four data forms are: tailoring instruction to meet individual student needs, identifying instructional content to use in class, and developing recommendations for additional support, respectively. A hierarchical multiple regression model showed that teacher perceptions on their competence in using data had the most significant contribution to predicting teacher actions with data while perceptions on data team trust were surprisingly not significant in predicting district teachers actions with data. The mean measure of actions with data was significantly lower than each of the four means of the perceptions: competence, attitude, organizational support and trust. Further investigation may be needed to understand this phenomenon in the district.

The fact that teachers expressed confidence in their data competence skills, attitude towards data, and in the level of organizational support for data use yet do not use data widely suggests that there may be conflation of assessment literacy with data literacy. If this is true and not unique to the case study district, then the implication is for schools of education nationally to prepare preservice teachers by offering in-depth data literacy courses. Meanwhile, the school district may consider developing or shopping for PD providers with expertise in data literacy interventions.