Closing the Gap: Professional Development Toolkit-Turning Data Into Action
This 140+ page toolkit provides school districts and schools with a detailed plan for developing and implementing a data use program. Resources include direct instruction components, checks for understanding, application worksheets, facilitators guides and checklists, and self-directed learners guides and checklists. The toolkit also includes numerous links to other resources, many of which are central to the toolkit. The overall goal is to use data to improve instruction and achievement. An electronic version is also available.
The toolkit is divided into five sections as follows:
Building a Culture for the Effective Use of Educational Data
Establishing Professional Learning Communities
Evidence-Based Practices Supporting the Use of Educational Data
Technologies Enabling the Use of Educational Data
The purposes of this data use training toolkit are effectively described and generally met, using reasonable methods and expert resources. The authors nicely illustrate two different ways to use the toolkit, either as a school or district professional development program or by individual teachers. Communications quality is excellent. Writing is easy to understand, definitions are provided when necessary, and the graphics and layout are far above average.
One important shortcoming is that many of the embedded HTML links to resources, especially videotapes, did not work, including on both Safari and Firefox browsers. These resources are important to the toolkit and hopefully the problem will soon be fixed. Utility should be quite high, especially for school districts and schools that are beginning or reviewing their data use programs. The publishers do not provide evidence of effectiveness. Consequently the user does not know if the toolkit has actually been used by any schools prior to the toolkit’s publication. A resource of this type should have evidence to support its effectiveness. Nevertheless, this toolkit is worthy of consideration.