Get READY to monitor student progress and understand the growth rates of students. School personnel can make informed and valid instructional decisions by becoming competent in collecting and analyzing data as students are learning reading, writing, math, and social-emotional behavior. Data-based decision making allows educators to identify gaps in content mastery, as well as, individual student needs.

Data-based decisions can be used to:
  • Identify students who need additional assessment and instruction
  • Determine the effectiveness of core curriculum and instruction and help decide whether or not the core curriculum is effective for all students
  • Consider allocation of resources and additional supports for students
  • Assess the effectiveness of instructional programs for targeted groups of students
  • Decide whether a student should be referred or could be eligible for special education services
  (Center on Response to Intervention at American Institutes for Research)

Get SET for using team-based problem solving to develop instruction and supports matched to student needs by using data-based decision making for:

  • Who needs assistance?
  • What type of instruction or assistance is needed?
  • Is the duration and intensity of instruction sufficient?
Movement between levels:
  • When does a student move to something more or less intensive?
  • Who is responding and/or not responding?
Disability identification:
  • When do you refer for special education evaluation?
  • How does this student compare to his/her peers?
  • Did he/she receive appropriate instruction (in accordance with state law)?
  (adapted from Elledge, 2011)

For additional information on data-based decision making, please GO to following resources:

  Using Student Achievement Data to Support Instructional Decision Making. The goal of this Institute of Education Sciences (IES) practice guide from What Works Clearinghouse is to formulate specific and coherent evidence-based recommendations for use by educators and education administrators to create the organizational conditions necessary to make decisions using student achievement data in classrooms, schools, and districts. This guide provides practical, clear information on critical topics related to data-based decision making and is based on the best available evidence as judged by the panel of authors.
  The National Center on Intensive Intervention (NCII) is housed at the American Institutes for Research and works in conjunction with many of the nation’s most distinguished experts on intensive intervention. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and part of OSEP’s Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network (TA&D), this website offers evidence-based progress monitoring tools for intensive interventions and implementation support for collecting and analyzing data.

  • Buffum, A., Mattos, M. & Weber, C. (2009) Pyramid Response to Intervention: RTI, Professional Learning Communities, and How to Respond When Kids Don’t Learn. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
  Center on Response to Intervention at American Institutes for Research.
  • Elledge, A. (February 2011) Webinar: Essential Components of RTI: Data-Based Decision Making. Center on Response to Intervention at American Institutes for Research. (Transcript of webinar)
This news brief is a collaborative effort of the Virginia Department of Education Training and Technical Assistance Centers at George Mason University and James Madison University. This issue was prepared by the staff of the VDOE TTAC at George Mason University. For questions about content, please contact Janet Ratzlaff at, Karen Berlin at or Kay Klein at or
call 703-993-4496.