How data-driven reform can drive deficit thinking

Melanie Bertrand, Julie Marsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Propelled by accountability policies, leaders have touted data-driven decision making as a means to improve K-12 student outcomes and drive equity, as teachers analyze data to change instruction. However, many data-driven decision-making reforms have failed to challenge inequity. Melanie Bertrand and Julie Marsh’s study of six middle schools shows that teachers’ deficit thinking about emergent bilingual students, students with disabilities, and “struggling” students contributes to this failure of data reforms. They argue that blaming these groups for test scores ultimately works to uphold systemic racism, white supremacy, and other forms of injustice, and they conclude by offering recommendations for policy and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-39
Number of pages5
JournalPhi Delta Kappan
Issue number8
StatePublished - May 2021


  • accountability
  • data-driven
  • deficit thinking
  • equity
  • improvement
  • racism
  • students of color
  • white supremacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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