Northern Michigan University education professor K.C. Holder recently completed a two-year fellowship with the Strategic Data Project, based at the Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) at Harvard University. The SDP’s mission is to transform the use of data in education to improve student achievement by better diagnosing issues, developing solutions and monitoring the results.
“I am privileged to have been selected to participate in an outstanding fellowship,” Holder said. “SDP broadened my knowledge of being a data strategist, provided access to exemplary practices via workshops, and created the space to work with top-tier professionals on the cutting edge of data visualization, leadership practices and documenting achievement.”
SDP’s theory of action is to bring together the right people, assemble the right data and perform the right analysis to improve the decisions that leaders make so that student achievement improves significantly.
Holder’s fellowship work focused on helping NMU’s Charter Schools Office with two outcomes: creating a dashboard for the university’s nine charter schools; and determining the appropriateness of using a virtual comparison group to evaluate student academic performance.
“KC supplied our office with a research-based model to assess and evaluate charter schools in a transparent process over the life of the contract,” said Bill Pistulka, director of NMU’s Charter Schools Office. “His fellowship project moved us forward in a strategic and timely manner to better measure the academic performance of the academies authorized by NMU. We look forward to implementation in the coming years.”
Joe Lubig, associate dean of NMU’s School of Education, Leadership and Public Service, said he has already seen the positive effects of Holder’s work.
“Dr. Holder’s learning and expertise is not only impacting the NMU Charter Schools Office, but also one K-12 school in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,” Lubig said. “Bark River Harris School District is seeing a positive shift in school culture of how data are used, resulting in improved professional development and outcomes for students.”
The SDP Fellowship is an intensive two-year professional development program that places data strategists in education agencies to have an immediate impact on policy decisions that affect student outcomes. CEPR collaborates with faculty across the university and education agencies nationwide.