A Data Champion's Reading List

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(Mariel Matze, Schoolzilla) #1

We heard so many recommendations at DCS that it only seemed natural to start a collective reading list. I’ll throw a couple I’ve heard mentioned out there. (No need to agree with the author’s position-- any book that has made you think harder about working with data and serving students is fine.)

  • The Data Warehouse Toolkit: The Complete Guide to Dimensional Modeling, by Ralph Kimball and Margy Ross: on @lynzi’s shortlist for those beginning to explore data architecture

  • Switch, by Chip and Dan Heath: recommended to me a long time ago by a Data Champion friend who found it helpful when developing data culture at his organization.

  • The Shame of the Nation, by Jonathon Kozol: examines inequity in American public schools. There are a lot of amazing books that take different approaches to this topic, but please post them below!

  • Any of Edward Tufte’s books: imaginative visualizations on all sorts of data

  • StrengthsFinder from Gallup Press: personality typology that focuses on playing to an individual’s strengths. Mentioned during the Supporting Great Data Champions session at this year’s Summit as especially helpful for managers.

  • The Essentialist, by Greg McKeown: another gem from the Supporting Great Data Champions session (Rachel is full of them!), this one on how to focus on the most important things in your work.

If you were to recommend one book that would help someone become a better Data Champion, what would it be?

And if you’re looking to learn more about a certain topic (SQL, bilingual instruction, public speaking, etc.) let us know so we can find some recommendations for you!


('Happy' Howell) #2

Our team got a lot out of Measuring Up, by Daniel Koretz. Coming from a design background and not having a strong foundation in assessment, I found this super useful when designing reports and when helping teachers and staff understand exactly what data is describing to them.


(Mariel Matze, Schoolzilla) #3

Dynamite, @rhowell!

@kokada, have you started The Essentialist? Any thoughts so far?

@hhoffman, remind me which book helped you revolutionize your to-do list? Would you recommend to others?


(Heather Hoffman, Alpha Public Schools) #4

Getting Things Done! The ideas in the book have been so helpful to me.

I just finished The Essentialist and I highly recommend it too.


(Kenli Okada, E.L. Haynes Public Charter School) #5

I haven’t started it yet because I have two books in front of it - Mindset by Carol Dweck and Good to Great by Jim Collins.


(Mariel Matze, Schoolzilla) #6

I’ve been wanting to read Mindset as well, @kokada!


(Mariel Matze, Schoolzilla) #7

New suggestion from Lisa at Ladue School District in MO: Data Literacy for Educators. Couldn’t help but pass along to you guys!

Has anyone else read this one?


(Anna Lutey, Schoolzilla) #8

Hi all!

A few more book suggestions that came from folks attending the Kick-Start Your District’s Data Culture webinar:

  • Data Wise by Kathryn Parker Boudett
  • Driven by Data by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo

Happy reading!


(Jan Faraguna, Rocketship Education) #9

For data champions specifically, I agree with the recommendations for Driven by Data (understanding data from a teacher and school leader perspective) and Tufte’s books (visualizations). Additional ones are (good reference guides, don’t really need to be read front-to-back):

  • Methods Matter: Improving Causal Inference in Educational and Social Science Research - research methods for education, basically a textbook
  • Stephen Few’s books - visualization
  • Improving Survey Questions: Design and Evaluation - creating and analyzing surveys

From my experience, it also depends very much on someone’s background. Most of our analysts/data champions have come from outside education and encouraged them to read books to give them more context on education in the US. and our students rather than data-related topics.


(Mariel Matze, Schoolzilla) #10

Such a good point about tailoring reading lists and references to a particular person’s background, @jfaraguna. Thanks for weighing in-- keep the suggestions coming!