The Problem with Data-Driven Decision Making in Education


  • Jason Isaacs



Data-driven decision making as an extension of test-based accountability policies for educational reform and improvement promises new insights into efficient and effective leadership. An examination of the context surrounding the implementation of this decision making model, particularly relationships of power that serve to enframe the discourse surrounding education, reveal fundamental problems with the implementation of data-driven decision making models. This paper contends that under current contexts the practice at best constitutes a form of illiteracy, and at worst may undermine the public and democratic purposes of education. It is concluded therefore that what is needed in education is not data-driven decision making, but rather principled leadership and a moral framework for the use of information by educators. This leadership should be informed by the application of a logic model for program evaluation, and a democratic discourse led by educators.