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What is Data Based Decision Making?

August 14th, 2020

Data based or data driven decision making is a system of procedures that teachers can use to identify why a student is struggling in school. Many years ago, we tended to assume that when a student struggled in school, it was always because of a disability. What we know now is that there are many reasons kids struggle in school and they’re not all related to disabilities. Through very specific procedures, educators can use data to identify the source of student learning needs and address those needs, and then conduct progress monitoring to see if their efforts are working. 

So, data based decision making starts with universal benchmark screening. This provides data on every student in the school so teachers can look and compare with other sources of information which students appear to need our help. Then, based on that, they can provide assistance to students through various types of intervention (at Tier 2 or Tier 2) and conduct progress monitoring in order to see if the student is reaching the goals. 

Some students may need assistance over a longer period of time. They may participate in multiple interventions over multiple grades because of various factors that are affecting their learning. But data based decision making provides a tool so teachers are able to do that in a seamless way—it means that supports can be provided more immediately rather than waiting for students to fail.

For support using data based decision making in your multi-tiered system of support, check out our free MTSS Toolkit.


Illuminate Education partners with K-12 educators to equip them with data to serve the whole child and reach new levels of student performance. Our solution brings together holistic data and collaborative tools and puts them in the hands of educators. Illuminate supports over 17 million students and 5200 districts/schools.

Ready to discover your one-stop shop for your district’s educational needs? Let’s talk.

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