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Districts Use Data to Boost Graduation Rates

Our Diplomas Count 2010 special report, released this morning, is all about how school districts are using data to help them graduate more students and reduce dropout rates.

Like me, all of you in edu-world often hear school leaders talk about how they are using "data-driven decisionmaking" to implement reforms. But what does that really mean? And just how do you take data and create meaningful strategies that help with one of the thorniest parts of the education pipeline?

My colleagues and I talked to school superintendents, central office administrators , principals and teachers from Stockton, Calif. to Fall River, Mass. in search of answers.

As many of these school leaders told us, the data itself is a starting point. It's what you do with the information that matters.


When Deb Lindsey, director of accountability for Milwaukee's school district talks to principals, she tells them not to focus on re-inventing the wheel. Rather, use the district goals and the data at hand to take action.

"I'd rather they spend the time thinking about what strategies they need to use to get more kids proficient," she told me. "They have discussions about what kids are at the goals and which kids aren't and what are they going to do differently to make sure those kids get there."

Lindsey is one of several educators you'll hear from as you read my overview of efforts.

And while you're looking through this year's Diplomas Count, be sure to also take a look at the analysis of the latest graduation trends across the nation by our research center.

Among the findings:

And after you are done reading, tell me this: what data-driven strategies have proven effective for your school and district in boosting graduation rates?

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