Improving data literacy in schools: Lessons from the school feedback project

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As in many other countries across the globe, there is a growing expectation, e.g., from policy makers, that schools in Belgium (Flanders) are using data to take school policy decisions, as a consequence of their growing autonomy. However, the reality is not always in line with these ambitious expectations. Therefore, several initiatives are taken to support schools, especially the school principals, to-further-improve their capacities to handle data in a proper way. In this study, we will focus on how primary school principals look at the different types of support they receive to use data about their pupils’ performance as part of a large-scale School Feedback Project. The following research questions will be handled: (1) “What are the principals’ strengths and weaknesses with regard to data literacy?,” (2) “To what extent have support initiatives had an impact on data literacy of the participating principals?,” and (3) What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of support? Different types of support were provided to increase the data literacy capacities for the participating schools and their principals: a help desk (for all the schools, n?=?195), INSET (external training) by researchers (n?=?34 schools), ONSET (internal training) by researchers (n?=?7 schools), ONSET (internal training) by a pedagogical advisor (n?=?12), and Peer consultation (n?=?4?'?2 schools). In total, 45 principals (distributed across the conditions) were interviewed and two additional focus group discussions were held. Overall, the study shows that initiatives aimed at developing data-use competencies and having access to support actually can make a contribution to improving the data literacy competencies. We explain that different types of support show different results.




Vanhoof, J., Verhaeghe, G., van Petegem, P., & Valcke, M. (2013). Improving data literacy in schools: Lessons from the school feedback project. In Data-based Decision Making in Education: Challenges and Opportunities (pp. 113–134). Springer Netherlands.

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