Skip Navigation
Forum Curriculum for Improving Education Data
NCES 2007-808
May 2007

Lesson: Classifying Education Data


All Key Players1


This lesson is one of four workshops that serve as an introduction to building a culture of quality education data. All participants should complete all four workshops for maximum benefit. In this workshop, participants will explore categories of school data (as defined by educator and author, Victoria Bernhardt2) and their application, and identify the uses of data within their own schools. They will also examine the cycle of data production and application.


  • Describe one way to classify school data.
  • Identify data elements most useful for improving instruction and student achievement.
  • Read and analyze basic data outputs.

Instructor Preparation

  • Determine if, within your region or state, a data classification system other than Victoria Bernhardtís Multiple Measures of School Data is in common use or commonly known. If so, you may want to change the lesson resources to reflect that classification system.
  • Read the Multiple Measures article by Victoria Bernhardt reprinted in this volume.
  • Make a single copy of the following lesson resources (which can be found in the Lesson Resources section column at the top of this page) for each participant:
    • Multiple Measures of Data graphic
    • Multiple Measures article by Victoria Bernhardt
    • Types of Data chart
  • Arrange to display the Summary/Wrap-Up prompt (on a flip chart or blackboard or projected on a screen) in such a way that it can be referred to by the entire group during discussion.

Essential Learnings

  • Many types of data are available that can help guide decisionmaking. Often, Local Education Agencies (LEAs) focus exclusively on student achievement data. Planning for a culture of quality data involves recognizing the various types of data and providing for collection and storage systems adapted to their use.
  • Victoria Bernhardtís system for classifying school data is only one of many possible such schemes. This curriculum uses it as a framework for helping LEAs understand and use the data they have, as well as better realize the importance of quality data.

1 Key players include board members, superintendents, principals, data stewards/coordinators, teachers, technology support staff, and office staff.
2 Victoria Bernhardt has written numerous books about understanding data and applying data analysis to improve school and school district operations and student achievement. She is currently the executive director of Education for the Future, a not-for-profit initiative located on the campus of California State University, Chico, California.