Data Use and Educational Improvement


Note: The Foundation is not currently accepting applications to the Data Use and Educational Improvement Initiative or applications under the Evidence for the Classroom RFP. Research projects on data use in education may be supported through a small grant award or a Lyle Spencer Research Award. In addition, we may issue a new request for proposals in future years that would build on the Evidence for the Classroom RFP.

The Data Use and Educational Improvement Initiative was created to support scholarship examining processes, contexts, and other factors that affect how educational organizations use data for improvement. The Initiative grew out of our broader focus on organizational learning in schools, school systems, and higher education institutions. Research projects in the Data Use Initiative have included work in both K-12 schools and institutions of higher education and have covered a range of topics, from how data are used in an online data management system to the effectiveness of capacity-building interventions. Summaries of past major grant projects in the Data Use Initiative are available here. Some of the groundwork for the Data Use Initiative was laid when the Foundation convened a series of meetings of scholars working in this area. Information about these meetings and resulting papers can be found here.

In 2012, as part of the Initiative, we issued a request for proposals, titled “Evidence for the Classroom.” The questions behind this RFP, posed against the background of increasing calls for “data-based decision-making” in education, concerned how data can actually be used by teachers to improve student outcomes and what contextual factors affect their ability to do so. Specifically, the RFP sought proposals for research projects examining how student performance data is used by educators, from kindergarten through the 8th grade, to inform classroom practices, and how organizational contexts influence this use. In the first year of the Evidence for the Classroom RFP, we funded five projects, with a limit of $300,000 per project. In 2013, we re-issued the RFP and funded eight additional projects. Brief descriptions of these projects can be found here.

If you have questions about Spencer’s work in Data Use, or want to be added to our mailing list for future announcements, please email