Education Leadership Data Analytics (ELDA) Summit 2018 | Teachers College Columbia University

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Education Leadership Data Analytics (ELDA) Summit 2018

Across education, a growing set of research studies has shown the positive influence that school leaders can have when they are able to facilitate evidence-based improvement cycles in their schools. This work helps teachers to use evidence to create capacity-building conversations which build collaboration and trust between teachers around the issues that matter most to their students and context. Yet, when it comes to evidence use and data analysis, while the new discoveries and innovations in big data, data analytics, and the data sciences have been revolutionizing practice across multiple industries, little of this work has yet to reach education practice. This is despite the growing work and expense of school districts and educational systems building and maintaining Instructional Data Warehouses (IDWs) with the hope that beyond data reporting and compliance, schools may be encouraged to use the data available across the system to inform instructional improvement and resource allocation decisions. The dual goal of much of the work of data science is to surface patterns in data that have as yet gone unnoticed and thus highlight patterns for action, and communicate these patterns to organizational stakeholders so that they inform evidence-use decisions, two goals that may be quite informative for education.

In June of 2018, over 100 participants attended the Education Leadership Data Analytics (ELDA) Summit at Teachers College, Columbia University, including educators, researchers, policymakers, and funders. The work of the domain of Education Leadership Data Analytics (ELDA) is situated at the intersection of the three areas of 1) education leadership, 2) evidence-based improvement cycles, and 3) data science. As stated in the recent report generated from the event:


Education Leadership Data Analytics (ELDA) practitioners work collaboratively with schooling system leaders and teachers to analyze, pattern, and visualize previously unknown patterns and information from the vast sets of data collected by schooling organizations, and then integrate findings in easy to understand language and digital tools into collaborative and community-building evidence-based improvement cycles with stakeholders (Bowers, Bang, Pan, & Graves, 2019, p.8).


This event was funded by:

  • Teachers College, Columbia University, Office of the Provost: Provost Investment Fund
  • National Science Foundation Northeast Big Data Hub – Big Data for Education Spoke
  • The Robertson Foundation

Throughout the event, a broad representation of researchers and practitioners from across these three domains of the Venn diagram of ELDA came together to engage with speakers from across research, practice and industry.

The ELDA Summit 2018 culminated in a collaborative networking workshop event in the Teachers College, Columbia University Smith Learning Theater. The Smith Learning Theater is a recently completed state-of-the-art instrumented collaborative space. During the Learning Theater event, teams of participants worked together to build capacity and ideas around the core needs of ELDA. This brief 3 minute video overviews the event and the work of the participants:

This work from the Learning Theater, as well from across the ELDA Summit 2018 gathering was then collected, along with pre- and post-event surveys, and summarized in a white paper report, published open access: ELDA Summit 2018 White Paper Report. As described in the report, participants at the summit collaboratively generated ideas about the central challenges for this new domain of ELDA, and then voted on the most significant issues. These include:

  1. Providing resources and training for teachers and leaders to build their capacity and skills facilitating evidence use with data and analytics.
  2. Creating opportunities for researchers and education practitioners to work together to build a community of research in the ELDA domain, especially around tools and practical uses of these new tools in practice around the articulated needs from educators across many different contexts of schooling.
  3. A core focus on equity, diversity, and ethical use of analytics in data use and decision making, all in service to student and community needs.
  4. Close attention to data privacy and confidentiality issues, while also providing opportunities for F.A.I.R. data practices and sharing de-identified anonymized data to help build and share open-access and non-proprietary tools and data visualizations.

The report concludes with a roadmap for building capacity in the ELDA field generated from the responses across the ELDA Summit 2018, with the goal to help provide definitions for the skills and competencies needed for practitioners in this domain so that they can inform education decision making in an effort to help inform instructional improvement across schooling systems.


Bowers, A.J., Bang, A., Pan, Y., Graves, K.E. (2019) Education Leadership Data Analytics (ELDA): A White Paper Report on the 2018 ELDA Summit. Teachers College, Columbia University: New York, NY. USA. Open access: