Make Better Decisions Together | Teachers College Columbia University

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Make Better Decisions Together:
A Ten-Step Framework for Education Leaders

April 12 - May 16, 2021

April 12, 2021 - May 16, 2021

Format: Online asynchronous with some live, one-on-one professional coaching

Audience: School, district and state education department boards, leaders and decision-makers

Registration Fee: $535

Discounted Registration: Groups/Teams of 3 or more and TC Alumni receive 25% off the registration fee. Please contact to register with the discount

Units Awarded: Participants receive 20 Clock Hours and 20 CTLEs (applicable only to NY residents); and a Digital Badge


Education decision-makers often have to make important choices with incomplete information, immovable deadlines, and limited resources. We know we are expected to use evidence to inform our decisions, but competing needs and pressures from different stakeholders make it difficult to reconcile various goals and preferences. How can we as leaders make sound decisions about our schools and ensure buy-in from stakeholders?

In this five-week course, education leaders at the school, district, and state level will learn how to apply a cost-utility framework to decision-making. Through a combination of online sessions and one-on-one coaching, leaders will have the opportunity to interact with like-minded professionals and build essential connections. Participants will learn how to use an online tool, DecisionMaker, to apply the decision-making framework to a real-life decision. For example, participants may use the framework to choose among several math curricula, pick a digital device, allocate resources among competing priorities, decide the best scale up/scale down scenario for an existing program, identify which literacy programs best meet ESSA evidence requirements, choose which school site will host a summer program, or decide where to invest professional development funds.

During the course, you will receive one-on-one professional coaching from experts from Teachers College to assist you in applying the framework to a decision of your choice.

Taking this class will help you to…

  • Articulate needs at your education agency and structure decisions related to these needs.
  • Apply a systematic, collaborative, and evidence-based framework based on cost-utility analysis to key programmatic or strategic decisions in your school, district or state context.
  • Use the DecisionMaker tool proficiently to support the decision-making process.
  • Collaborate with other education leaders about important, real-life decisions in your schools.

This course will be most impactful if you are prepared to tackle a current decision your institution needs to make. Better still, sign up with the team that needs to make the decision or stakeholders you want to involve. However, it is not necessary to register with a problem in mind - we can help you select an appropriate decision to work on, or provide examples for you to choose from.

Participants will walk away having completed the decision-making process for this decision problem and ready to apply the process to other decisions at their institutions.

This course has no required prerequisites, but Make Better Decisions Together makes an excellent companion course to Leading with Evidence in Schools. Participants who have completed or are currently enrolled in Leading with Evidence can apply their knowledge about turning data into evidence when using the cost-utility framework for decision-making.


Units Awarded: Participants who successfully fulfill the course requirements will receive

  1. 20 Clock Hours and 20 CTLEs (applicable only to NY residents); and
  2. A Digital Badge.

Course requirements include:

  • Watching weekly short lecture videos
  • Completing weekly activities to apply what you have learned to a real-world decision problem
  • Receiving one-on-one professional coaching from experts from Teachers College.

Course Policies:

  • CTLE Credit Policy: Any attendee who is taking this course for CTLE credit in New York State must enter their name exactly as it appears on the TEACH website in accordance with NYSED requirements.
  • This course does not carry Teachers College or Columbia University credits or grades.

Course Outline

This course is designed to take participants an average of four hours per week for five weeks. Each week, you will watch video lectures; review relevant materials, examples and case studies of education agency decisions; and progress a few steps in applying the cost-utility decision-making framework to your decision. You will have the option of collaborating with your peers via discussion boards and soliciting their ideas and relevant experiences to inform your decision process. You will sign up to engage in one-on-one professional coaching from the experts from Teachers College.

  • Week 1: Introduction to DecisionMaker and the cost-utility framework
    • Assessment: Define, refine, and articulate your decision problem and engage one or more relevant stakeholders via DecisionMaker. Discuss your rationale for getting input from some stakeholders and not others.
  • Week 2: Identifying solution options and evaluation criteria
    • Assessment: Identify solution options to address the decision you need to make and apply screening criteria to them. Develop your evaluation criteria and assign them importance scores.
  • Week 3: Gathering evidence to support your decision
    • Assessment: Describe the information that you will use to evaluate each solution option and how you will collect this information. Begin gathering this evidence.
  • Week 4: Estimating costs and interpreting utility results
    • Assessment: Identify the resources needed to implement each of the solution options and estimate costs using an Excel template we have developed for this work.
  • Week 5: Making the decision
    • This week, there will be no video modules. Engage in one-on-one professional coaching with our panel of experts, and spend additional time completing the decision-making process.
    • Assessment: Gather remaining information needed to evaluate each of the solution options against your evaluation criteria. Estimate costs and complete the decision-making process in DecisionMaker. Finally, write a short reflection (2-3 pages) about the process and how you could apply it in your professional work going forward.

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