Evidence-based decision making in school district central offices: Toward a policy and research agenda

Meredith I. Honig, Cynthia Coburn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

163 Scopus citations


District central office administrators increasingly face policy demands to use "evidence" in their decision making. These demands up the ante on education policy researchers and policy makers to better understand what evidence use in district central offices entails and the conditions that may support it. To that end, the authors conducted a comprehensive review of research literature on evidence use in district central offices, finding that the process of evidence use is complex, spanning multiple subactivities and requiring administrators to make sense of evidence and its implications for central office operations. These activities have significant political dimensions and involve the use of "local knowledge" as a key evidence source. Evidence use is shaped by features of the evidence itself and various organizational and institutional factors. Policy shapes evidence use, but other factors mediate its impact. The authors conclude with implications for future policy and research on central office evidence-based decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)578-608
Number of pages31
JournalEducational Policy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Central office
  • Evidence-based decision making
  • Policy implementation
  • School district

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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