Data Use Among Principals and Teachers: Divergent Paths or Common Ground?

Implications for the Leadership Preparation Programs


  • Waheeb Albiladi University of Arkansas
  • Kara Lasater University of Arkansas
  • Ed Bengtson University of Arkansas



decision making, data use, administrators, instructional leadership, school improvement


This study examines teachers’ and administrators’ use of data to inform their practice in one south-central state. Using a qualitative research approach, the study involved 76 educators representing eight school districts. Data were collected using focus groups with teachers and in-depth interviews with school principals. Data were inductively and deductively analyzed using multiple cycles of coding. Analysis of data revealed three themes that exposed differences in the use of data by teachers and administrators: the challenges of data use, the “levels” at which data are viewed (micro and macro lenses), and the value placed on formal and informal data. Findings suggest that by understanding the differences between teachers’ and administrators’ perspectives on data use and recognizing the common ground that unites their perspectives, schools can create data cultures that foster shared expectations, collaboration, and trust between teachers and administrators.


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Author Biographies

Kara Lasater, University of Arkansas

Kara Lasater is an assistant professor of educational leadership at the University of Arkansas. She has experience working in nonprofit and K-12 public education. Her research interests include the development of family–school partnerships, educators’ use of data, and effective preparation of school leaders.

Ed Bengtson, University of Arkansas

Ed Bengtson is an associate professor of educational leadership at the University of Arkansas. He has 22 years in K-12 education, serving as instrumental music teacher, assistant principal, and principal. His research interests are the socialization of educators, educators’ use of data, and the educational doctorate as a professional degree.


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