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Effective Data Use in Education Systems

2/13/17 to 3/24/17

This is an online program.

Registration Deadline: February 12, 2017 at midnight EST

Tuition: $399 per person 

What You Will Learn

Effective Data Use in Education Systems is an online professional development program for current and aspiring data strategists and analysts working with multiple data sets across schools. Based upon the work of HGSE Professor Jon Fullerton and the Center for Education Policy Research, the program provides a toolkit for strategic data use and explores the role of data strategists in that process. In this six-week program, you will be guided through a step-by-step process to identify, clean, connect, and analyze data in your system with an end goal of improving student achievement. 

Program Overview

Effective use of data is a necessary prerequisite for transforming education agencies and improving student achievement. In this online workshop, you will examine different ways to conduct data analysis through hands-on experience with a shared example data set and application to your own work. Over the course of four weeks, you will work to identify key sources of data necessary to conduct analysis, clean and connect several large-scale administrative data sets, and analyze these data to examine trends surrounding college-going success. At each step, you will apply these concepts to work in your own work setting. You will also hear from several data strategists about how they address challenges in their work. Throughout the program, you will have access to facilitated question and answer discussion forums and additional resources for further learning and any support needs you may encounter along the way.

The example analysis presented in this program focus on college going success and will help you answer questions such as: How are students in my agency transitioning from 9th grade to 10th grade? and Are they graduating? While this sample data set relates to college going success, much of the work you do will allow you to answer several other types of questions. We encourage you to consider multiple questions that are relevant to your setting and how this online workshop can support your specific work as well.

The resources in this toolkit were generated by the Strategic Data Project (SDP) at Harvard University. 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: placing and supporting data fellows in partner organizations who will influence policy at the local, state, and national level; creating policy-and management-relevant analyses for districts and states; and transforming how data is used in the education sector through broad dissemination of analytic tools, methods, and best practices. You can learn more about SDP here.

Program Objectives

By completing the program, you will be able to:

  • Participate in hands-on activities to analyze education data of relevance to your agency.
    • Produce clean data sets.
    • Produce analytics and visualizations with these data sets.
  • Workshop challenges for your agency in doing this work.
  • Begin answering key questions relevant to your agency.


  1. Access to statistical software. Statistical packages are the preferred tools to manipulate large, longitudinal datasets. The SDP toolkit presented in this online workshop uses Stata and R as its programming languages. You will be able to follow along using either package.
  2. A basic understanding of statistics. The current version of the SDP toolkit only requires a basic knowledge of statistics. You should understand mean, mode, median, and standard deviation.
  3. Optional: Find a data set. If you do not have immediate access to your agency’s data or want to ensure you understand the toolkit before jumping in, we provide data sets for you to download throughout the online workshop. However, you also have the option to use a data set from your own agency to get hands-on experience cleaning, connecting, and analyzing files.

Format and Delivery

The program is a mix of self-paced learning, group discussion, and job-embedded application. Participants will learn tools and tips from the online lessons that they can weave directly into practice in their education system.

The program includes:

  • Video lectures from Professor Fullerton and data practitioners
  • Assigned readings
  • Job-embedded practice where you will apply the concepts and skills learned*
  • Facilitated cohort discussions and office hours

A core part of the HGSE experience is cohort learning. Over the course of the program, the curriculum is designed to create a community of practice for participants to learn with and from each other.

The online instruction, discussions, and job-embedded practice should take five to seven hours per week over the duration of the program. Participants who complete all individual assignments and contribute to group discussions will receive a certificate indicating completion of twenty-five clock hours of instruction.

*Note: all content is self-paced, including group discussions. Facilitators will moderate discussion boards throughout the six-week program.

Who Should Attend
  • Data strategists and analysts working in education organizations, districts, or charter systems
  • Other educators who work with data or aspire to work with data at a systems level
Faculty Chair

Jon Fullerton is the executive director of the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University. Fullerton has extensive experience working with policymakers and executives in designing and implementing organizational change and improvements. Before coming to Harvard, Fullerton served as the Board of Education's Director of Budget and Financial Policy for the Los Angeles Unified School District. In this capacity, he provided independent evaluations of district reforms and helped to ensure that the district's budget was aligned with board priorities. From 2002 to 2005 he was Vice-President of Strategy, Evaluation, Research, and Policy at the Urban Education Partnership in Los Angeles, where he worked with policymakers to ensure that they focused on high impact educational strategies. Fullerton also worked for six years at McKinsey & Company as a strategy consultant and Senior Practice Expert in Education. He has a Ph.D. in government and an AB in social studies, both from Harvard.



Effective Data Use in Education Systems is a registration program. Please click the register button at the top of the page to be guided through the registration process. In order to maximize the learning experience, the program aims to bring together as diverse a group as possible. Both individuals and teams are welcome to register.

Fees and Policies

Tuition includes all instructional materials. Participants receive a certificate of participation and a letter confirming clock hours of instruction.

Payment is due by credit card at registration. 

Please click here for more information on our on-campus and online refund and withdrawal policies. If you have any additional questions or concerns about your ability to participate, please contact our admissions team at or 1-800-545-1849.

The Harvard Graduate School of Education reserves the right to change faculty or cancel programs at its discretion. In the unlikely event of program changes, the school is not responsible for non-refundable travel arrangements or other planning expenses incurred.

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