This study’s purpose was to determine perceptions of rural school principals’ use of data and how rural school principals’ use of data impacts student achievement. Findings indicated principal perceptions about using data to improve student achievement, and principal and staff perceptions about their ability to analyze data to improve student achievement were statistically significant and positively associated with student achievement. No statistical significant association between principal perceptions about using data to design teacher professional development and student achievement was found. Three latent variables collectively accounted for only 6% of variance in student achievement. This small effect size finding supports the premise that although rural principals perceived themselves capable of utilizing data appropriately, little practical significance was associated with actual data use. Results call into question the utility of current principal preparation programs while highlighting the need for in-depth training in data analysis among rural school principals.

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