School Improvement & Redesign

(2013). SDP Toolkit for Effective Data Use . Strategic Data Project. Learn more and download [SDP website]Abstract

The SDP Toolkit for Effective Data Use is a resource guide for education agency analysts who collect and analyze data on student achievement. Completing the toolkit produces a set of basic, yet essential, human capital and college-going analyses that every education agency should have as a foundation to inform strategic management and policy decisions.

(2015). Changing the Culture of Data Use in Delaware:How State Leaders Used Analytics to Create Education Policies That Matter . Strategic Data Project. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This case illustrates how the work of leaders and analysts in the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) and the agency’s partnership with the Strategic Data Project (SDP), a program of the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University, created momentum for statewide policy change.  By exploring Delaware leaders’ use of data and analytics to challenge assumptions and inform the development of better policies and practices, the case illustrates the importance of leadership, analytic and technical competency, and strategic partnerships when leading education reform.  The case specifically highlights the power of human capital analytics to diagnose the current status of Delaware’s educator pipeline, from preparation through development and retention, and how effectively communicating with these analyses built coalitions of support and drove a culture of data use at both the state and district level.
Download the case study [SDP website]

Marguerite Roza

Marguerite Roza

SDP Fellowship Faculty Advisor
Senior Research Affiliate; Director
Center on Reinventing Public Education, University of Washington; Edunomics Lab, Georgetown University
2015 Jul 14

SDP Institute for Leadership in Analytics

Tue Jul 14 (All day) to Fri Jul 17 (All day)


Cambridge, MA

The SDP Institute for Leadership in Analytics is a four-day data workshop for education analysts who want to leverage data to inform decision making and improve student achievement. The curriculum provides a foundation or refresher course on problem analysis, technical methods, program evaluation, and data visualization and communication techniques. Hands-on activities, including computer lab sessions, demonstrate how to gain key insights around priority topics such as teacher effectiveness or college-going success. Participants need not be an expert in statistical programming, though a basic understanding is recommended (e.g., Stata, SAS, R, SPSS).
Learn more about the SDP Institute

2015 May 18

Beyond the Numbers Convening 2015

Mon May 18 (All day) to Wed May 20 (All day)


Boston, MA

The Beyond the Numbers Convening, hosted by the Strategic Data Project (SDP),  brings together SDP Fellows, partners, practitioners, researchers, and leaders in the field of education to discuss the role that data, analytics, and leadership play in our continued effort to transform the use of data in education to improve student achievement. 

Kane, T. J., Taylor, E., Tyler, J., & Wooten, A. (2011). Identifying Effective Classroom Practices Using Student Achievement Data. The Journal of Human Resources , 46 (3), 587-613.Abstract

This paper combines information from classroom-based observations and measures of teachers’ ability to improve student achievement as a step toward addressing the challenge of identifying effective teachers and teaching practices. The authors find that classroom-based measures of teaching effectiveness are related in substantial ways to student achievement growth. The authors conclude that the results point to the promise of teacher evaluation systems that would use information from both classroom observations and student test scores to identify effective teachers. Information on the types of practices that are most effective at raising achievement is also highlighted.

West, M. R., Kraft, M. A., Finn, A. S., Duckworth, A. L., Gabrieli, C. F. O., & Gabrieli, J. D. E. (2014). Promise and Paradox: Measuring Students' Non-cognitive Skills and the Impact of Schooling.Abstract

The authors used self-report surveys to gather information on a broad set of non-cognitive skills from 1,368 eighth-grade students attending Boston Public Schools and linked this information to administrative data on their demographics and test scores. At the student level, scales measuring conscientiousness, self-control, grit, and growth mindset are positively correlated with attendance, behavior, and test-score gains between fourth- and eighth-grade. Conscientiousness, self-control, and grit are unrelated to test-score gains at the school level, however, and students attending over-subscribed charter schools with higher average test-score gains score lower on these scales than do students attending district schools. Exploiting charter school admissions lotteries, the authors replicate previous findings indicating positive impacts of charter school attendance on math achievement, but find negative impacts on these non-cognitive skills. The authors provide suggestive evidence that these paradoxical results are driven by reference bias, or the tendency for survey responses to be influenced by social context. The results therefore highlight the importance of improved measurement of non-cognitive skills in order to capitalize on their promise as a tool to inform education practice and policy.

Papay, J., West, M., Fullerton, J., & Kane, T. (2011). Does Practice-Based Teacher Preparation Increase Student Achievement? Early Evidence from the Boston Teacher Residency.Abstract

Center researchers John Papay, Martin West, Jon Fullerton, and Thomas Kane investigate the effectiveness of the Boston Teacher Residency (BTR) in their working paper Does Practice-Based Teacher Preparation Increase Student Achievement? Early Evidence from the Boston Teacher Residency.  BTR is an innovative practice-based preparation program in which candidates work alongside a mentor teacher for a year before becoming a teacher of record in Boston Public Schools.

Abdulkadiroglu, A., Angrist, J., Cohodes, S., Dynarski, S., Fullerton, J., Kane, T., & Pathak, P. (2009). Informing the Debate: Comparing Boston's Charter, Pilot, and Traditional Schools.Abstract

Whether using the randomized lotteries or statistical controls for measured background characteristics, we generally find large positive effects for Charter Schools, at both the middle school and high school levels. For each year of attendance in middle school, we estimate that Charter Schools raise student achievement .09 to .17 standard deviations in English Language Arts and .18 to .54 standard deviations in math relative to those attending traditional schools in the Boston Public Schools. The estimated impact on math achievement for Charter middle schools is extraordinarily large. Increasing performance by .5 standard deviations is the same as moving from the 50th to the 69th percentile in student performance. This is roughly half the size of the blackwhite achievement gap. In high school, the estimated gains are somewhat smaller than in middle school: .16 to .19 standard deviations in English Language Arts; .16 to .19 in mathematics; .2 to .28 in writing topic development; and .13 to .17 in writing composition with the lottery-based results. The estimated impacts of middle schools and high school Charters are similar in both the “observational” and “lottery-based” results.

Angrist, J. D., Cohodes, S. R., Dynarski, S. M., Fullerton, J. B., Kane, T. J., Pathak, P. A., & Walters, C. R. (2011). Student Achievement in Massachusetts' Charter Schools.Abstract

Researchers from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, MIT, and the University of Michigan have released the results of a new study that suggests that urban charter schools in Massachusetts have large positive effects on student achievement at both the middle and high school levels. Results for nonurban charter schools were less clear; some analyses indicated positive effects on student achievement at the high school level, while results for middle school students were much less encouraging.

View the Press Release

View the PowerPoint Presentation

2013 May 15

Beyond the Numbers Convening 2013

Wed May 15 (All day) to Fri May 17 (All day)

The third annual SDP Beyond the Numbers Convening, From Classroom to Boardroom: Analytics for Strategy and Performance, was held in Boston, MA on May 15–17, 2013. Participants included SDP Fellows (current and alumni); SDP Fellows’ Supervisors; members of ActivateED, a collaborative effort with Education Pioneers and the Broad Center; SDP Faculty Advisors; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation representatives; Center for Education Policy Research staff; and key leaders in K–12 education.... Read more about Beyond the Numbers Convening 2013

2011 Feb 07

Examining Student Achievement in Massachusetts’ Charter Schools

7:00pm to 9:00pm


Askwith Hall, Longfellow Hall, Harvard Graduate School of Education

On February 7 at 7:00 P.M., Moderator Edward Gleaser hosted an evening of discussion around the CEPR’s new study Student Achievement in Massachusetts’ Charter Schools in Askwith Hall.  Speakers will include Joshua Angrist, co-author and Ford Professor of Economics at MIT, Mitchell Chester, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Jon Fullerton, Executive Director of the Center for Education Policy Research.  Panelists consist of Andrea DeAngelo, Founding High School Principal from KIPP Academy Lynn; Alan Ingram,...

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2012 Apr 23

Beyond the Numbers: The Power of Analytic Leaders

(All day)


Boston, MA

Two hundred education leaders from across the country gathered in Boston, MA to attend the 2nd annual Strategic Data Project (SDP) Spring Convening, Beyond the Numbers: The Power of Analytic Leaders. Participants engaged in discussions about improving the use of data and analysis in their respective partner agencies, and partook in a rich set of sessions focused on college-going success and the human capital pipeline. Speakers included Amy Briggs, Chief Operating Officer at Student Achievement Partners; John Friedman, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kenned School; and...

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2013 Apr 27

CEPR-Affiliated Sessions at AERA 2013

Sat Apr 27 (All day) to Wed May 1 (All day)


San Francisco, CA

CEPR affiliates are to present at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting 2013 from April 27–May 1 in San Francisco, CA. The theme of the event this year is “Education and Poverty: Theory, Research, Policy, and Praxis.” CEPR presenters include researchers; steering committee members; and SDP Fellows, Alumni, and Faculty Advisors. The sessions will be an opportunity to learn more about some CEPR research, as well as research done outside of the center by its affiliates. View the list below to see the sessions that include the CEPR network.