Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Lisa Abrams

Second Advisor

Jonathan Becker

Third Advisor

Vicki Wilson

Fourth Advisor

Chris Corallo


This non-experimental, census survey included the elementary, middle, and high school principals at the comprehensive schools within a large, suburban school division in Virginia. The focus of this study was the factors that influence building administrators in using data to make instructional decisions. The purpose was to discover if there is a difference in the perceptions of elementary, middle, and high school principals of data use to make instructional decisions within their buildings. McLeod’s (2006) Statewide Data-Driven Readiness Study: Principal Survey was used to assess the principals’ beliefs about the data-driven readiness of their individual schools. Each principal indicated the degree to which they agreed or disagreed with statements about acting upon data, data support systems, and the data school culture. Twenty-two items aligned with four constructs identified by White (2008) in her study of elementary school principals in Florida. These four constructs or factors were used to determine if there was a significant difference in principal beliefs concerning teacher use of data to improve student achievement, principal beliefs regarding a data-driven culture within their building, the existence of systems for supporting data-driven decision-making, and collaboration among teachers to make data-driven decisions. For each of the survey items a majority of the responses (≥62%) were in agreement with the statements, indicating the principals agreed slightly, agreed moderately, or agreed strongly that data-driven decision-making by teachers to improve student achievement was occurring within the building, a data-driven culture and data supporting systems exists, and teachers are collaborating and using data to make decisions. Multiple analyses of variance showed significant differences in the means. Some of these differences in means were based on the principals’ assignment levels. While both groups responded positively to the statement that collaboration among teachers to make data-driven decisions, the elementary principals agreed more strongly than the high school principals. When mediating variables were examined, significance was found in principals’ beliefs concerning teacher use of data to improve student achievement depending on the years of experience as a principal. Principals with six or more years of experience had a mean response for Construct 1 of 4.84 while those with five or less years of experience had a mean of 4.38, suggesting that on average those principals with more experience had a stronger belief that teachers are using data to improve student achievement. There is significance between the means of principals with three or fewer years versus those with more than three years in their current assignment on two of the constructs – a data-driven culture and collaboration among teachers. Principals with less time in their current position report a slightly higher agreement than their less experienced colleagues with statements about the data-driven culture within their school. Significant difference was also found between principals’ beliefs about teacher collaboration to improve student achievement and their beliefs regarding collaboration among teachers using data-driven decision-making and the school’s AYP status for 2008-2009. Principals assigned to schools that had made AYP for 2008-2009 moderately agreed that teachers were collaborating to make data-driven decisions. In comparison, principals assigned to schools that had not made AYP only slightly agreed that this level of collaboration was occurring in their schools.


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Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2009

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