Improving student success begins with using data to better inform decision-making around policy and practice.

IEBC’s data use work—workshops and coaching—is guided by our belief that too often the focus is on the data and not on the user. That is, professional development related to data use tends to focus on analytics and data literacy. So, in addition to rethinking the analytics aspect, we explored the latest research in behavioral economics, neurobiology and behavior, and organizational habits. We created a three-part model for data use, grounded in this research, to support student success: analytics, human judgment and decision-making and organizational habit. Our model addresses how to turn data into information and present it in ways that capitalize on what we know about how people process information for action and how organizations change.

Our model for turning data into information is driven by a structure of leading and lagging indicators. We have found that the common metrics identified for understanding and guiding educational efforts are focused on the big goals, which are lagging indicators. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to identify needs for midcourse correction until it is too late. Although it is important to track high school graduation rates, for example, lagging metrics tell us little about how to make improvements. Our model includes a focus on leading indicators: metrics that lead to our big goals, act as early warning flags, and are in our control to change.

This model and these concepts are laid out in the book, Creating A Data-Informed Culture in Community Colleges written by Institute for Evidence-Based Change (IEBC) President and CEO Dr. Brad Phillips, and IEBC Vice President Jordan Horowitz. Read what others are saying about this book.

IEBC is dedicated to providing our clients and partners with the skills and knowledge to turn data into information that is useful, usable, and actionable.

Workshops, data use coaching and customized consulting are our primary strategies for helping educators gain confidence in data use, practice activities in groups and individually, and develop practical applications that apply to their unique work.

  • Workshops to demystify data use and empower educators to identify patterns and insights in data that guide measurable improvements in student success
  • Data Use Coaching to support faculty and staff to be the local experts
  • Customized Consulting to assist institutions with their specific needs in improving data-informed decision-making
  • We also write about data use in various publications

In Big Data Alone Won’t Help Students by Brad C. Phillips and Jordan E. Horowitz, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, points out that the information that comes out of big-data systems must be usable, useful, and actionable by educators who know how to make sense of it.

In Creating a Data-Informed Culture in Community Colleges, from Harvard Education Press, IEBC’s Brad C. Phillips and Jordan E. Horowitz present a research-based model and actionable approach for using data strategically at community colleges to increase completion rates as well as other metrics linked to student success.


IEBC workshops demystify data use and empower education stakeholders. Workshops are based on our work with educational institutions across the country—school districts, colleges, universities, state departments, and funders—and all kinds of data users, including researchers, teachers, administrators,  and more.  Each workshop helps participants gain confidence in data use, practice activities in groups and individually, and develop practical applications that apply to your unique work.

We often combine our workshops and customize them to match unique needs and time constraints. Workshop evaluations consistently provide high marks for the relevance of the topics, skills that are transferred, knowledge that is gained, and presentation methods that make the driest of topics entertaining and interesting.

Click here for more information on specific data use workshops. Or, review all IEBC workshop offerings here.


Educators often decry the one-shot approach to professional development. IEBC data use coaching builds upon the topics in our workshops to provide guided practice for district administrators, faculty, and staff using your local district data to address emerging and longstanding issues among your schools. We help build strong working relationships between those who use information and those who develop the data reports. We help your teams to identify relevant leading and lagging indicators and guide their use in developing school and district academic plans; project management systems; reports for parents, students, school boards, and others; and strategies for supporting special populations at risk for academic failure. You end up confident in your ability to turn data into information and use it skillfully and strategically.  Learn more about Data Use Coaching.

Customized Consulting

While IEBC products and services often meet the precise needs of our clients, sometimes specialized approaches are desired—a specific combining of workshops; a mixture of data use tools or variations, or a unique research project based on a particular student population or funder interest.  Click here to see examples of our customized consulting.