Case Studies

The Strategic Data Project periodically will release formal case studies and video spotlights that illustrate how the SDP Fellowship and SDP Diagnostics were implemented in partner agencies and demonstrate some of the results that these engagements can achieve. The cases provide a detailed narrative that walk readers through critical steps taken by stakeholders inside and outside of the education agencies. As a result, the audience is able to think through how their organization might be able to undertake similar actions and achieve some of the same outcomes. 

See also: Resource

Changing the Culture of Data Use in Delaware

Changing the Culture of Data Use in Delaware:
How State Leaders Used Analytics to Create Education Policies That Matter
This case illustrates how the work of leaders and analysts in the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) and the agency’s partnership with the Strategic Data Project (SDP), a program of the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University, created momentum for statewide policy change.  By exploring Delaware leaders’ use of data and analytics to challenge assumptions and inform the development of better policies and practices, the case illustrates the importance of leadership, analytic and technical competency, and strategic partnerships when leading education reform.  The case specifically highlights the power of human capital analytics to diagnose the current status of Delaware’s educator pipeline, from preparation through development and retention, and how effectively communicating with these analyses built coalitions of support and drove a culture of data use at both the state and district level.

What You Can Learn From This Case:
Leaders from inside and outside education agencies can all benefit from reading and discussing this case, including superintendents, commissioners, and senior executives; data strategists and analysts; and leaders from affiliated organizations such as foundations, nonprofits, and consultants. For example, the case:

  1. demonstrates what a data strategist is –a high-ranking professional in education revolutionizing how data are collected, analyzed, and shared with key stakeholders to improve outcomes for students,
  2. explains how data strategists and agency leaders can successfully  navigate and work effectively within a complex organizations,
  3. illustrates the importance of technical, interpersonal, and communication skills in data leadership,
  4. considers the range of supporting conditions that help or hinder data strategists’ effectiveness and promote or impede organizational culture change; and
  5. outlines clear strategies that can help to sustain education policy changes over the long term.

Increasing College-Going Rates in Fulton County Schools, GA

Increasing College-Going Rates in Fulton County Schools: A Summer Intervention Based on the Strategic Use of Data
This case study, published by Harvard Education Press, describes how to use data to challenge assumptions, reveal student needs, address these needs programmatically, and evaluate results. It shows a team of data specialists and educators working together, across institutional and departmental boundaries, to determine why some high school seniors who intend to go to college after graduation do not enroll in the fall. Together, they develop, implement, and evaluate a summer counseling intervention program called Summer PACE to ensure that more students enroll seamlessly in college.

SDP Partner Spotlights (VIDEO)


“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


“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)


"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)