How school leaders can build effective data teams: Five building blocks for a new wave of data-informed decision making

Kim Schildkamp*, Cindy L. Poortman, Johanna Ebbeler, Jules M. Pieters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
125 Downloads (Pure)


Data-informed decision making is considered important for school improvement. Working in data teams is a promising strategy for implementing data use in schools. Data teams consist of teachers and school leaders, who collaboratively analyze data to solve educational problems at their school. Studies show that school leaders can enable and hinder data use in such teams. This study aims at exploring what types of leadership behaviors are applied to support data use in data teams. The results of this study point to five key building blocks for school leaders wanting to build effective data teams in their school: (1) establishing a vision, norms, and goals (e.g., discussing vision, norms, and goals with teachers); (2) providing individualized support (e.g., providing emotional support); (3) intellectual stimulation (e.g., sharing knowledge and providing autonomy); (4) creating a climate for data use (e.g., creating a safe climate focused on improvement rather than accountability, and engaging in data discussions with teachers); and (5) networking to connect different parts of the school organization (e.g., brokering knowledge and creating a network that is committed to data use). Not only formal school leaders, but also teachers, can display these types of behavior. Finally, it is important to stress here that all these building blocks are needed to create sustainable data use practices. These building blocks can be used in a new wave of data-informed decision making in schools, in which teachers and school leaders collaboratively use a multitude of different data sources to improve education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-325
Number of pages43
JournalJournal of educational change
Issue number3
Early online date2 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2019


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Data teams
  • Data-based decision making
  • Data-driven decision making
  • Data-informed decision making
  • Distributed leadership
  • Leadership
  • Professional development
  • Case studies


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