Strategic Data Project Selects 24 Partners for Fellowship Program

September 17, 2014

Participating Education Organizations Gain Access to Growing Network of Leading Experts and Harvard-based Researchers

Cambridge, MA. (September 17, 2014) – Today, the Strategic Data Project (SDP), based at the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University, announced the selection of 24 partners from around the country to host the sixth cohort of the SDP Fellowship. The sixth cohort comprises 45 fellows, SDP’s largest fellowship cohort yet. The SDP Fellowship is a comprehensive two-year professional development program that develops talented data strategists in school systems, state education departments, and nonprofit organizations.

The SDP network includes 191 fellows and fellow alumni, 75 education organizations, and leading researchers from Harvard University and across the United States. By participating in the fellowship, both fellows and their host agencies will grow advanced analytic capacity, develop clear priorities and plans for data and data systems, build organizational willingness to use data to inform decision-making, and uncover valuable insight about performance. Together with SDP, these leaders are building a growing, national network focused on improving student outcomes in America’s public schools.

“At this critical time of transition with new standards, assessments, and accountability systems, Broward is delighted to partner and collaborate with the best minds across the country leading these efforts within the SDP Fellowship,” said Dr. Nathan Balasubramanian, Executive Director of Strategy and Continuous Improvement at Broward County Public Schools. “There couldn’t be a better time to show how data is transformed into actionable information to improve student outcomes with purposeful instructional insights and actions to help every parent achieve the best dreams for their children.”

SDP partners were chosen after participating in a rigorous application process that included completing an in-depth application and detailing their goals for the SDP Fellowship. Nine of the partners are returning to the program with new fellows, citing the value of such collaboration.

“Cleveland Metropolitan Schools is eager to continue our collaboration with SDP and add new fellows to our organization. The analytic insights of SDP Fellows were instrumental in developing and implementing significant pieces of our new human capital strategy, as well as our initiative to improve graduation rates,” said Eric Gordon, Chief Executive Officer of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. “One fellow’s improved tracking and reporting system supported our district so we could be fully staffed for the new school year. Another fellow’s on-track to graduation indicator played an important role in growing the district’s graduation rate by 5 percentage points in one year.”

The new SDP Fellowship partners include: Broward County Public Schools (FL), Charleston County School District (SC), Clark County School District (NV), Derby Public Schools (KS), Houston Independent School District (TX), Huntsville City Schools (AL), IDEA Public Schools (TX), Northern Michigan University Charter Schools Office (MI), Passaic Public Schools (NJ), Paterson Public Schools (NJ), The Public Education Foundation (NV), Say Yes to Education (NY), Uplift Education (TX), and West Linn-Wilsonville School District (OR). Returning partners include: Baltimore County Public Schools (MD), Cleveland Metropolitan School District (OH), Delaware Department of Education, Elizabeth Public Schools (NJ), Fort Wayne Community Schools (IN), Hawaii Department of Education, Howard County Public Schools (MD), Jefferson County Public Schools, Kentucky Department of Education, and Office of the State Superintendent of Education (DC).

“State and local governments invest more than $1.6 billion per year in student assessments and other data. Yet those data are currently underutilized in every school district and state agency in America,” said Thomas Kane, faculty director of the Center for Education Policy Research and Walter H. Gale Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “With this program, we’re providing system leaders with the analytic talent they need to use their own data to learn what’s working and what’s not.”

SDP is always seeking new allies in the drive to transform the use of data in K–12 education. Education agencies can collaborate with SDP by enrolling an agency fellow or hosting a data fellow, participating in an SDP training, or conducting a research diagnostic with the Harvard team. Please direct any questions to Nneka Ibekwe, Fellowship Admissions and Recruitment

The Strategic Data Project partners with school districts, charter school networks, state education agencies, and nonprofit organizations to bring high quality research methods and data analysis to bear on strategic management and policy decisions. The project is supported in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


The Strategic Data Project’s mission is to transform the use of data in education to improve student achievement. Better access to appropriately analyzed data will allow system leaders to better diagnose issues, develop solutions, and monitor the results of implementing these solutions. Our theory of action is that if we bring together the right people, assemble the right data, and perform the right analysis, we can improve the decisions that leaders make such that student achievement improves significantly.

The Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University
The rapid accumulation of student achievement data represents an untapped national resource, one that holds the promise of breaking longstanding stalemates in the education policy debate. The Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University is a unique partnership among districts, states, foundations, and university-based researchers designed to bring these new data to bear in evaluating policies and drawing implications for reform.