• What is the Strategic Data Project?


  • Strategic Data ProjectMy name is Abbey Benzine, and I’m the Data Strategist for Acceleration Schools. I came to Acceleration Schools last summer through Harvard University’s Strategic Data Project. As I enter the second year of this fellowship, I wanted to share a little background about this program and how it benefits our schools.

    The Strategic Data Project, or SDP, is a two year professional fellowship designed to develop strong data cultures and data literacy in education communities across the country to help improve student outcomes. Started in 2008, this fellowship began within Harvard’s Center for Education Policy Research focusing on pre-kindergarten through high school, but the initiative expanded to higher education in 2019. In the last 15 years, there have been more than 500 fellows across 240+ institutions in more than 30 states. Fellows are hosted in school districts, state agencies, nonprofits, and research organizations nationwide. We are a network driven to support teachers and students through the use of data in education. As stated on the Strategic Data Project’s website, “SDP believes that if we are able to bring together the right people, share the right analytic tools, and deliver the right training, we can help leaders make better decisions—significantly improving student achievement.”

    Throughout these two years, fellows gather three times per year to gain training, resources, and networking opportunities to bring back to their communities. For example, I attended the spring SDP Convening in Chicago, IL, in May 2023, and I was able to share tutoring research and data literacy training that was presented with my Charleston colleagues. We also complete training modules in coding, qualitative and quantitative methods, and project planning. The fellowship culminates in a project during the two years that is designed by the fellow and their supervisor to support the needs of their placement agency. This project is presented at the second spring Convening of the fellowship.

    I first heard about SDP from colleagues who had completed the program and spoke very highly of the experience. Having started my career in an education nonprofit, I was excited for this opportunity to expand my knowledge in a school district environment. The most beneficial aspect of this fellowship so far has been the network of resources and knowledge provided by other fellows. While so many educators are doing great work in their schools and districts, I’ve found it can be difficult to share those ideas outside of our direct communities. This is a detriment to the education field when so many of us are facing similar concerns, and we all have the same goal - to educate every student equitably and to help all students achieve success. Connecting with educators, strategists, and analysts in other states, districts, and organizations has allowed me to bring additional perspective to Acceleration Schools, and I look forward to growing this work in the coming school year!Social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have become a way of life. Therefore, in Acceleration Schools, we utilize various modes of communication to build communication between families, the District, communities, organizations, and school sites.  Through social media, we hope to inform parents and guardians of their child’s success and the successes occurring across Acceleration SchoolsSchool Sites.   Therefore, to keep the flow of communication between Accelerations and our families, we ask that you follow us on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/ccsd_accelerationschools/