Data driven decision making and the New Zealand secondary school principal

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Crawford, Richard James
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Educational Leadership and Management
Unitec Institute of Technology
Youngs, Howard
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
data driven decision making
New Zealand secondary schools
school principals
Crawford, R. J. (2010). Data driven decision making and the New Zealand secondary school principal. A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Leadership and Management, Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
In an age of expanding educational accountability driven by pressures to lift student achievement the role of Data Driven Decision Making (DDDM) within schools has escalated. In a New Zealand context the 2001 Education Standards Act signalled an expectation that schools were required to make greater use of data in their reporting and planning is an indication of this. Within this environment, however, literature suggests that for various reasons skilful data analysis to inform school decision making is a leadership tool that is generally not well understood or applied. Such a premise has various implications because the secondary school principal is expected to be a pedagogical leader and is often required to fit any reforms such as improving data capacity in to a spectrum of several other reforms that can be simultaneously in motion. This can cause fragmentation and dislocation which can also jeopardise the sustainability of educational reform. Responding effectively to lift school data capacity is therefore a challenge that New Zealand secondary school principals could currently face. The main objective of this dissertation is to contribute to the knowledge base of how New Zealand secondary school principals are applying practices of DDDM to improve student outcomes. Principal views of the purported benefits of DDDM as well as the barriers that can hinder establishing greater school data capacity are examined. DDDM views and practices of principals in regard to the Revised New Zealand Curriculum are also a feature of this research. Five secondary school principals from the same region in New Zealand were interviewed about their DDDM perspectives and also the DDDM practices that they were seeking to implement. The research highlighted that the principals shared similar views about the benefits of DDDM and also similar frustrations in their attempts to translate DDDM theory in to practitioner practice. It is hoped that these findings may benefit secondary school principal leadership by providing a critical base for secondary schools principals to clarify their understanding of how DDDM could be used to improve learning and raise achievement in the secondary schools that they lead.
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