Data Use and Decision Making in Fort Worth ISD
Fort Worth Independent School District’s performance on state achievement and growth measures ranks among the lowest compared to similarly sized districts across the state of Texas. These results sparked an intense focus on improving student learning and increasing equity, as well as a series of initiatives to redesign and revitalize FWISD schools. As a critical step toward achieving these goals, the district adopted a data visualization platform, a potentially powerful tool to assist educators in sound data-based decision making. In this study, we utilized qualitative methods to gather information on the day-to-day decision-making activities of teachers, school leaders, and district administrators, and examined the nature and quality of data use in their decision-making processes. Our research is centered on interviews and focus groups conducted with 77 staff members from 6 school campuses and 3 central office departments. We found that stakeholders across the district experience inconsistent challenges with data literacy skills, the clarity of the vision for data use at the district and on each campus was inconsistent, as was the amount of structured time for collaborative data use, and most participants reported being uncertain or unaware of how to best use data to promote equity in practice. Our report concludes with recommendations for district leaders to leverage their new data visualization tool.