New free book helps educators understand and use data to drive student success

Book provides a step-by-step resource to help educators implement evidence-based programs


Research Triangle Park, NC— A new free book written by three RTI International education researchers is helping educators provide valuable services to students.

Leveraging Data For Student Success: Improving Education Through Data-Driven Decisions, written by Laura G. Knapp, Elizabeth Glennie, and Karen J. Charles and published through RTI Press, aims to help educators and education project directors determine if the services and programs they provide to schools, teachers, and students are effective. Even without a research background, educators can use the book as a guide to design studies, collect data, and analyze results so they can understand when programs are and aren’t working.

“Educators are regularly making decisions, such as whether to continue, expand, or modify a program, but often aren’t confident about how to collect or use data to inform their choices,” said lead author Knapp, program director in the Education and Workforce Development division at RTI and the book’s lead author. “We wanted to create a step-by-step resource that educators everywhere might use to implement more evidence-based programs—from small classroom programs to broader system wide programs.”

The book includes five chapters that cover the continuum of gathering, analyzing and using data:

  • Planning to Make a Data-Driven Decision: steps for planning a study that involves data
  • Obtaining Data: understanding approaches for collecting student-level data
  • Measuring and Managing Data: strategies for measuring variables, managing data, and creating files for analysis
  • Data Analysis: techniques to address different kinds of questions
  • Dissemination: guidelines for sharing findings through various media channels

Though the book includes examples focused on college and career readiness programs, like how to define and measure college readiness, readers can apply the processes to other areas to answer questions like, “How effective is my program?” or “Are students responding to services in the way I hoped?”

“Education is the building block for long-term success,” Knapp said. “Our hope is that this book will help educators understand when their ideas, programs, and innovations are making a difference in student outcomes.”

Download the book for free.