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Leading by Exemplar: Data Utilization in Head Start Programs

Ashley LiBetti

Title image for Bellwether publication "Leading by Exemplar: Data Utilization in Head Start Programs," March 2019Leading by Exemplar: Data Utilization in Head Start Programs provides in-depth information about the data utilization practices of five high-performing Head Start programs from across the country. The programs highlighted in this analysis — referred to throughout as Head Start exemplars — were selected because they demonstrate significant positive impacts on children’s learning.

This publication is part of the Leading by Exemplar project, a multi-year study conducted by Bellwether Education Partners. In this project, every aspect of the Head Start exemplars’ program design and practice were closely examined in an effort to understand each program’s “secret sauce.” Leading by Exemplar has three goals: to identify Head Start programs that are producing powerful results for children, elevate them as proof points of what is possible for the field, and inform policy and other efforts to improve early learning outcomes.

A key driver of these programs’ effectiveness is their use of data to improve program practice via a continuous improvement cycle. In a continuous improvement cycle, the program uses data to identify challenge areas, designs interventions to address those challenges, strategically implements an intervention, uses data to assess the results of interventions, and begins the cycle again. Leading by Exemplars: Data Utilization in Head Start Programs outlines the tools, systems, and practices that exemplar programs have adopted to implement rigorous and effective data-informed continuous improvement cycles.

Additional information about the Leading by Exemplar project, including methodology, lessons for the field, and other analysis, is available here. Detailed case studies of each exemplary program as well as a brief synthesizing the programs’ instructional models are also available.

Download the full report here or read it in the viewer below.