Data First

Brought to you by The Center for Public Education

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Data First was created with the idea that data matters. Education data, used well, can help school board members and everyone else who cares about education to make good decisions – ones based, not on the loudest voices or the latest theories, but on the facts about what students need and how they are currently doing.

This Web site, which is part of the larger Data First project, started out several years ago as a collection of data resources called “Good Measures for Good Schools.” That collection, which is now the Data Center, was designed to guide people through the questions they should be asking about their schools, and point to the data sources that offer answers.

Wanting to broaden and expand this idea, the Center for Public Education received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop training and tools specifically to help school leaders use data effectively in their ongoing efforts to improve student outcomes.  Data First for Governance is the product of a partnership of the Center for Public Education and state school boards associations  in California, Illinois and Michigan who worked together over 18 months to develop and pilot the school board training.

The Data First site is designed as an introduction to, and reinforcement of, the basic concepts of that training. Most of all, it is designed to link visitors to data they can use about schools, and to teach them how to use it better. Explore the site yourself to see what you can discover about your own schools.

Data First is brought to you by the Center for Public Education — an initiative of the National School Boards Association. Launched in 2006, the Center provides practical information, analysis and expertise on key education issues:

  • Original studies and reviews of rigorous education research that cut through the noise of opinion and politics to get at what really works. We present this information in different formats in order to make it accessible to professionals and lay readers alike.
  • Stories from the field showcasing schools and districts that are successfully applying the lessons of research and engaging their communities to the benefit of all their students.
  • Guides, glossaries, and go-to backgrounders on education lingo, statistics, and topics.
  • Downloadable resources and tools to help school and community leaders in their school improvement efforts.

The Center also works in close partnership with state school board associations to translate the lessons of research into effective policies and practices at the state and district level. Learn more about the Center’s work at

Founded in 1940, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is a not-for-profit organization representing state associations of school boards and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. Working with and through our state associations, NSBA advocates for equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership.