School- Central Office Relationships in Evidence Use
Venkateswaran, N. (2012). School- Central Office Relationships in Evidence Use: Evidence Use as a Systems Problem. American Journal of Education, 118(2), 199-222.
Research on evidence use in school districts overwhelmingly focuses within
schools on how school staff work with evidence including student performance
data, research, and information about teaching quality. While important, this
focus on schools reflects a mismatch with federal and state policies that demand
not only that school staff work with evidence but that school district central
office administrators do as well. This school focus also downplays how complex,
social school-level change processes such as evidence use may typically involve
central office staff in implementation and vice versa. To what extent do central
offices matter to school-level evidence-use processes, and do schools matter to
such processes in central offices? We explore these questions with a review of
research on evidence use in schools and central offices with a focus on school–
central office relationships in the process. We find that central offices and schools influence each other’s evidence-use processes in specific respects. We elaborate what extant research teaches about these relationships and argue that future research should aim to understand how evidence use plays out not solely within schools or central offices but across district systems and through interactions between central office and school staff.