A division of CNA's Institute for Public Research, CNA Education helps policymakers and practitioners improve the quality of public education by providing critical decision-making support. Our approach combines objective scientific methods, evidence-based analysis, on-the-ground field experience, and absolute data integrity.
Leveraging SLDSs in Tennessee and Virginia
Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Appalachia at CNA is working with partners in Tennessee and Virginia to help schools leverage their states' Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS). Since 2005, the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education has awarded grants to 47 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands through its SLDS Grant Program to "propel the successful design, development, implementation, and expansion of K12 and P-20W longitudinal data systems." REL Appalachia's four states - Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia - have received a total of more than $40 million in grants.

REL Appalachia is working with its Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) Data Use Research Alliance and Virginia Middle School Research Alliance (VMSRA) on SLDS projects to identify and overcome barriers to effective data use.

With the MNPS Data Use Research Alliance, we are developing a survey to measure the data use perceptions and practices of middle school staff who provide literacy instruction. With VMSRA, we are using data collected by schools, divisions, and the state to identify early warning indicators for grades 6, 7, and 8 that best predict which students at the end of grade 9 already are off track to graduate high school.

To learn more about these REL Appalachia projects and others visit www.relappalachia.org and follow us on Twitter, @REL_Appalachia.

-Eric Cramer, Associate Research Analyst

Did the Tennessee College and Career Ready Consortium Help Improve Instruction?
Led by the Niswonger Foundation, the Northeast Tennessee College and Career Ready Consortium has used i3 grant funds from the U.S. Department of Education to expand its high school students' access to academically rigorous coursework and high-quality instruction.

Among other strategies, the Consortium provided teachers with professional learning opportunities including workshops in specific content areas, Advanced Placement training, training to teach online courses, attendance at professional conferences, and an online community of practice. In math and science, teachers got feedback on their teaching and new curricular resources and equipment. A group of matched comparison schools received none of that support, but both groups benefited from statewide initiatives such as Race to the Top.

Did the Consortium's efforts make a difference?

To find out, CNA's evaluation team partnered with Briarwood Associates to use its Leadership by Design observation instrument, which measures the quality of a classroom's instruction and captures information about the classroom setting. Classrooms in Consortium and comparison schools were observed near the beginning of the grant, in 2011, and again near the end of the grant, in 2014. Observers rated each classroom on a 5-point scale, and added written comments.

The ratings provide evidence that Consortium schools made improvements in instructional quality over the grant period. The written comments indicated that highly rated Consortium math and science classrooms displayed high levels of student engagement; instructional practices that encouraged students to use higher-order thinking skills; and a diversity of instructional approaches that effectively responded to the different learning needs of different students.

So did the Consortium's efforts make a difference? As shown in the graphic, the answer seems to be yes.

-Dr. Tom Geraghty, CNA Research Scientist
Of Interest
New Resources

"Understanding the West Virginia Growth Model"

Presentation slides from REL Appalachia June 16, 2015, workshop

"Principal Leadership Strategies for Promoting Teacher Data Use"
Presentation slides and materials from REL Appalachia June 9, 2015, workshop

"Principles of Innovation Configuration Mapping"
Video and materials from REL Appalachia May 28, 2015, webinar

"How Do We Use Student Engagement Data to Improve Instruction?"
Video, presentation slides, and materials from REL Appalachia May 8, 2015, webinar

"Using Data to Improve Instructional Practice to Tackle Student Learning Challenges"
Presentation slides and materials from REL Appalachia April 16, 2015, workshop


CNA Education will be hosting a series of professional development forums for the Florida College and Career Readiness Initiative this summer. The forums will bring together educators from high schools, districts, and state colleges to discuss issues surrounding college readiness.
  August 4, Tallahassee, FL
  August 19, Jacksonville, FL 
About CNA Education
We focus on:

Making Effective Use of Data
Teacher Quality

K-12 Program Effectiveness
Transitions from Secondary School
College and Career Readiness / Workforce Development

We provide: 

Applied Research

Policy Analysis
Technical Assistance

Join Our Mailing List
Keep up-to-date on CNA Education's current projects, findings, products, and activities; read our bi-monthly newsletter, the CNA Education Update.
Contact Us
For the latest on CNA Education's capabilities and services, or to speak with one of our experts: education@cna.org

CNA Evaluates "Data Literacy" Program
"Data literacy" is the ability of teachers to work individually and collectively to examine different types of data and use that data to develop instructional improvement strategies. Teachers' data literacy is widely recognized as a critical resource in improving the academic performance of schools. TERC designed its professional learning program Using Data  to equip teachers to use data to make informed instructional decisions.

In a four-year study funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, CNA evaluated the Using Data program  as it was implemented in fourth- and fifth-grade math classrooms in Florida's Duval County public schools during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years. The program was evaluated according to several measures, including changes in teachers' frequency of data use and changes in teachers' data knowledge and skills. Below, project director Dr. Tom Geraghty talks about CNA's evaluation and its significance.

How did this study come about?

Dr. Geraghty: While it is important to collect data on student achievement, it is also important that educators know how to use data to help individual learners. The core question in this research project was whether a professional development program for improving educators' data literacy was actually working. Three aspects of the U.S. education system motivated this study. First is the desire to improve student achievement. Second, many educators are overwhelmed with the amount of student data being made available due to No Child Left Behind accountability requirements and related initiatives to establish performance measures for schools and teachers. Finally, many teachers and administrators are not prepared to use these data effectively, because they lack training and experience in "data literacy" - the ability to collect and interpret educational data, and to use this information to improve instruction in ways that raise student achievement.

What was the most impactful piece of information found?

Dr. Geraghty: We found that the program's effect depended on the characteristics of the school. Schools that before the intervention had relatively low performance on state standardized tests, and high percentages of poor and minority students, tended to see larger gains in student achievement than did schools that started off with better academic performance and fewer poor and minority students. This suggests that perhaps the schools that were initially lower-performing and higher-poverty may have had less well-developed data-use cultures, so that Using Data professional development may have been more valuable to them.

How can this research be applied to improve teaching and learning?

Dr. Geraghty: This type of evaluation contributes to a body of knowledge about how effective training in data-driven instructional improvement is in raising student achievement. Education policymakers and administrators can use this information to determine whether investment in such programs is a cost-effective way to improve student learning. Developers of teacher training programs can also use the information from this study to improve professional development offerings for teachers and principals.  

3003 Washington Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201