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Home > Professional Development > Achieving Results Intro > Table of Contents > Use of Research Data
Quality Standard #4: Use of Research Data
Decision-making in the system of training and development is driven by information from local, state, and national sources.
"Accountability must be a reciprocal process. For every increment of performance I demand from you, I have an equal responsibility to provide you with the capacity to meet that expectation. Likewise, for every investment you may in my skill and knowledge, I have a reciprocal responsibility to demonstrate some new increment in performance."
In the past, decisions about professional development have too often been dictated by the latest educational fad. Eventually, enthusiasm for the "latest thing" fades - and the associated training and development efforts quickly seem little more than a waste of time and money.
The solution? Rivet every aspect of training and development to reliable research. The National Staff Development Council touts programs that are data driven, use multiple measures of progress, and employ proven educational practices. Data - vigorous and varied - provide the fuel that keeps the cycle of continuous improvement turning.
Undeniably, training and development initiatives grounded in reliable research are more likely to produce lasting educational improvement, to motivate teachers, and to inspire public approval. What's more, programs improve when planners draw data from varied sources. For example, information gleaned from local and standardized tests can help schools set improvement goals. Analysis of the results of a single test can highlight the assessment tool's strengths and weaknesses. Regular, thoughtful analysis of students' work samples can reveal the extent to which training and development efforts are "working." Data on teachers (turnover rates, etc.) and feedback from parents play an important role in maintaining continuous improvement. Peer visits give teachers important information about the effectiveness of changes in practice.
Most school administrative units rely on local data such as these in planning training and development initiatives, but it's important to review scientifically rigorous national and regional studies as well. Such studies can spark dramatic changes in instruction and thus reshape the training and development agenda.
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