About

Since 2008, SDP has partnered with over 100+ school districts, charter school networks, state education agencies, and nonprofit organizations to bring high-quality research methods and data analysis to bear on strategic management and policy decisions. Our mission is to transform the use of data in education to improve student achievement. An initiative of the Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) at Harvard University, SDP was formed on two fundamental premises: 

  1. Policy and management decisions can directly influence schools' and teachers' ability to improve student achievement.
  2. Valid and reliable data analysis significantly improves the quality of decision making.
SDP Theory of Action

Theory of Action

SDP believes that if we are able to bring together the right people, assemble the right data, and perform the right analysis, we can help leaders make better decisions—ultimately improving student achievement significantly. To make this happen, SDP pursues three strategies:

Strengthening Analytic Capacity
Placing and supporting data strategists in partner organizations who will influence policy at the local, state, and national levels

Uncovering New Insights through Applied Research
Creating policy- and management-relevant analyses for districts and states

Supporting Network Growth and Improved Decision-Making
Transforming how data is used in the education sector through broad dissemination of analytic tools, methods, and best practices

The Right People

SDP VALUE, INFLUENCE, AND IMPACT

"It’s not just about what is the work we do, but what is the impact that that work is making and how is that really leading to student success.”

Karen Dodd, Chief Performance Officer
Kentucky Department of Education
Learn more about the value of being a partner

A NATIONAL NETWORK OF SDP PARTNERS

SDP About - mapSDP has worked with over 100 partners to date, including city and county school districts, state education agencies, charter management organizations, and nonprofits. SDP engages with partners to increase their analytical capacity, provide high-quality data analytics to address organizational challenges, and enable the organizations to better use data and evidence to make policy and management decisions.
Meet our partners

SUPPORT FOR SDP FROM DELAWARE LEADERSHIP

"As Delaware shifts to a new focus on transparency in information, using data throughout our system to determine what works and what doesn’t, SDP’s work is invaluable.”
Jack Markell, Governor of Delaware

SDP FELLOWS AND ALUMNI UPDATES

SDP Fellows and AlumniIn October, SDP inducted Cohort 7 to the SDP Fellowship. The orientation event marked the launch of the two-year program for 40 fellows. The fellowship program then welcomed Cohort 5 to the SDP Alumni Network after their graduation ceremony in August. The SDP Fellowship now includes 87 fellows and 170 fellow alumni. 
Meet the fellows

BECOMING AN SDP FELLOW

"[SDP] was a great place in the arc of my professional development...to be exposed to people who are at the leading edge of trying to make a difference.”
Anthony Sims, SDP Fellow
Prince George's County Public Schools (MD)
Learn more about the fellowship

The Right Data

SDP RESOURCES FOR DATA USE

One of SDP's strategies to transform the use of data in education is to disseminate our tools, methods, and lessons learned broadly. The publications featured below are a few examples of the resources that SDP has created to support data use in our partner agencies and across the education sector. To learn more about SDP's entire portfolio of tools, view the SDP Resource Guide. It highlights each SDP resource, including what it is, why you would want to use it, what skills are needed, and where you can find it.
View all SDP Diagnostics

SDP STRATEGIC USE OF DATA RUBRIC

SDP RubricThe rubric is a framework and self-assessment guide that provides education leaders with a structured and systematic way to assess an organization’s strengths and challenges around data use. It also highlights relevant information that enables an organization to effectively focus its efforts and resources in ways that will markedly impact planning, strategy, resource allocation, and accountability.
Learn more about the SDP Rubric

SDP TOOLKIT FOR EFFECTIVE DATA USE

SDP ToolkitThe toolkit is a resource for analysts in education agencies with access to student data. The highly technical document is aimed at supporting analysts’ work collecting, cleaning, merging, and analyzing data. Completing the toolkit produces a set of basic, yet essential human capital and college-going analyses that every education agency should have as a foundation to inform strategic management and policy decisions. 
Learn more about the SDP Toolkit

SDP SUMMER MELT HANDBOOK

SDP Summer MeltThe handbook contains guidance for education leaders on how to measure the magnitude of summer melt among high school graduates, provides resources and tools to help design a summer intervention customized to the needs and realities of school communities, and documents the extent of the summer melt problem across several large school districts. 
Learn more about the SDP Summer Melt Handbook

The Right Analysis

SDP DIAGNOSTICS

SDP helps partner agencies transform their use of data, and the SDP Diagnostics are vital to this process. Our diagnostics are descriptive analyses intended to uncover important and actionable information from agencies’ administrative data systems. They aim to identify opportunities for management or policy changes that may improve student outcomes. Our analyses also educate agencies about the types of information they can obtain from already existing data.
Learn more about SDP Diagnostics

SDP INSTITUTE FOR LEADERSHIP IN ANALYTICS

sdp-institute The SDP Institute for Leadership in Analytics is a four-day data workshop for education analysts who want to leverage data to inform decision making and improve student achievement. The curriculum provides a foundation or refresher course on problem analysis, technical methods, program evaluation, and data visualization and communication techniques. Hands-on activities, including computer lab sessions, demonstrate how to gain key insights around priority topics such as teacher effectiveness or college-going success.
Learn more about the SDP Institute

SDP BEYOND THE NUMBERS CONVENING

beyond-the-numbers-convening The SDP network, members of ActivateED, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation representatives, and key leaders in K–12 education gathered for the national SDP event. Goals of the convening included continuing to build a national network of data strategists; understanding the role that system-level leaders play in supporting a change in the culture of data use; showcasing partners that are successfully using diagnostic results to drive change; and ensuring opportunities for collaboration between SDP partners.
Learn more about the SDP Convening

The Right Decisions

SDP PARTNER SPOTLIGHT ON NEW YORK STATE:
CAPACITY, CULTURE, AND QUALITY

“We now bring some very powerful truths to the Board of Regents that are based on data we have long had, but never been able to liberate for decision making."
Amy McIntosh, Former Sr. Fellow,
Regents Research Fund
New York State Education Department

SDP PARTNER SPOTLIGHT ON LOS ANGELES: COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION 

“This work has supercharged [the Institutions of Higher Education] collaborative and just created tremendous potential for where we can go from here.”
Drew Furedi, Executive Director, Human Capital
Los Angeles Unified School District (CA)

SDP PARTNER SPOTLIGHT ON ELIZABETH (NJ):
INQUIRY AND INSIGHT

"I shared this finding [from the SDP Toolkit] with district leadership, and it immediately sparked some questions and dialogue about what was going on in Elizabeth.”

Rachel Goldberg, Director of Staff Development
Elizabeth Public Schools (NJ)