This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Data Driven Decision Making for School Improvement Planning: Toward a Model and Process for Distributive Leadership and Shared Decision Making




Parham, Alfred

Type of Degree



Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


Many school leaders may not have adequate decision-making tools or skills to respond to the reporting requirements of accountability mandates such as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Race To the Top (RTTT) (Flowers & Carpenter, 2009; Halverson et al., 2005; Hess & Mehta, 2013; Kensler, Reames, Murray & Patrick, 2011; Park & Datnow 2009; Spring, 2010; US Department of Education, 2002; USDOE, 2009). Educators may have to conduct research outside the field of education and learn from other organizations how to develop better decision-making tools (Kaniuka, 2009). Very little empirical research exists to provide school leaders with descriptions and interpretations as to how other learning organizations practice decision making (Cousins, Goh, & Clark, 2006; Datnow, 2011; Davison, 2008; Ingram, Seashore Louis, & Schroeder, 2004; Kaniuka, 2009; Paparone, 2001; Park & Datnow, 2009; Shen & Cooley, 2008;; Fullan, 2011; Fox, 2013). This qualitative field study explored and compared the decision-making practices of a U.S. school district located in the Southeastern region of the United States of America to the decision-making practices of a U.S. Military unit located in the Southeastern region of the United States of America. Ethnographic descriptions and interpretations of their cultural practices during decision making were made to see if what actually happens during their decision-making process is consistent with what each group espouses as to how they practice decision making. Data was collected for this ethnographic field study in the forms of participant observation, interviews, material culture, and field notes (Denzin & Lincoln, 2013; Fetterman, 2010; LeCompte & Schensul, 2010; Miles, Huberman, & Saldana, 2014). The findings suggest that the U.S. Army has developed decision-making models that are more sophisticated than current education decision-making models and informs a decision-making process that incorporates collaborative data analysis, shared leadership, and decision making that is data driven (U.S. Army Doctrinal Publication 2-0, 2012; U.S. Army, ATTP No. 5-0.1. 2011). My intent is that the results of the compared findings of this field study will contribute to the growing body of research concerning decision making for educators; inform educational professional practices concerning school accountability, the development or improvement of educational decision-making tools, and the development of a culture that values the use of data for decision making.