About Data Retreat® Workshops

Data Retreat® is a registered service mark of:

Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) 7 of Green Bay, Wisconsin.


Developed by Judy K. Sargent, Ph.D.

Data Retreat® Workshops are designed to provide an illuminating journey for educator teams. As educators strive to bring their students to standards that exemplify world-class achievement, they find themselves embarking on new territory. The journey can be foggy, and frustrating – or it can be clear and rewarding. What we do know is that the adventure is best undertaken collaboratively and reflectively.

What are Data Retreat® Workshops?Data Retreat® workshops are 2- or 3-day set-aside workshops for leadership teams to collaboratively study their school or district’s data. Leadership teams work together through a guided structured process to discover their data patterns, pose hypotheses, and develop school improvement plans. The retreats follow a proven 8-step process:

Step 1: Team Readiness

Step 2: Data Collection

Step 3: Data Analysis in 4 Data Lenses

  • Student Data
  • Professional Practices Data
  • Program & Structures Data
  • Family and Community Data

Step 4: Pose Hypotheses

Step 5: Develop Goals

Step 6: Design Strategies

Step 7: Design Evaluation

Step 8: Develop Roll-Out and Sustainability

It is important that the Data Retreat® facilitator be trained and fully understand the process of leading educator teams.

Some retreats are prescheduled and planned for many teams to attend at once. Other Data Retreat® workshops may be conducted for a particular school or district.

Who Attends Data Retreat® Workshops? School Data Retreat® Workshops are attended by the school administrator (principal) and representative teachers from key grade levels and subject areas. In Comprehensive Data Retreat® Workshops as well as in Special Education Data Retreat® Workshops, it is important that both regular classroom and special education teachers attend. Team size may vary from 5 to 25 people on a team.

Reflective CollaborationCollaboration asks educators to join together in ongoing problem-solving ventures. In school systems, district and building leaders join teachers and support staff in teams to explore improvement issues. Easier said than done, successful collaboration requires leadership skills in sustaining a vision, group problem solving, conflict resolution, and negotiation. On the journey toward higher standards, the challenge is most attainable when educators work together, pooling their talents and ideas.

Reflection as a companion to collaboration asks educators to think insightfully about the information before them and adjust their actions accordingly. On the journey of school improvement, reflection is necessary to not only stay on the improvement path, but to discover the best path. Successful reflection depends on thought-provoking information and time for individual and team study.

Put together, reflective collaboration is a powerful process that occurs among empowered teams of educators. When we are reflecting about improving student achievement, the information we need can be found in our system’s data. The data around us in our schools provides important clues for our reflection – and that reflection becomes most illuminating when we reflect together in teams. But, how do we embark on reflective collaboration during a busy school year? While we agree the process is empowering and that it should be a regular part of our professional practice, the undertaking seems overwhelming.

The Focus – Improving Student Learning The underlying assumption for school improvement efforts is that student learning can and should be continually improved. Students come to our schools to learn – to find challenge and excitement in new understandings. If we are to provide learning environments that are meaningful and engaging, we must continually reflect about the quality of our systems and make focused efforts to make them better.

District and school leaders are guided by a clear vision focused on student learning and a well-defined mission statement aimed at high-quality learning environments and optimum student achievement. Insightful leaders empower collaborative teams, engage their staff in purposeful analysis of their systems, and guide them in making data-based decisions.

The School Improvement Cycle The school improvement cycle involves a team effort. Representatives from the local communities and local schools, including individual administrators and teachers, engage in continuous cycles of improvement. It is a self-regulating cycle – the team decides for itself what its schools should be, how they should operate, and in what ways they should change and improve their approaches to teaching and learning.

The Importance of Data For the cycle to lead to real improvement, team members use data to provide insight and focus for their goals. Data patterns reveal weaknesses in the system that gives direction to goals. Collaborative, reflective study of data provides a rich forum for deepening the understanding of learning as the impact of strategies and practices is measured. Educational leaders continue to breathe life into the improvement cycle and remain empowered through their ongoing data study and team collaboration efforts.

Data Retreat® Workshops as Professional Development What we have discovered is that Data Retreat® Workshops provide the very best professional development. Data Retreat® Workshops provide training that is

  • relevant, since educators work with their own data
  • constructivist, since educators discover their own understanding about their data and their schools
  • collaborative, since educators work in teams
  • reflective, since educators have time to study and find insight

By engaging and leading their staff through thoughtful study of their own data, building and district leaders improve their own leadership capacity.   Data Retreat® Workshops provide opportunity for continual professional development when used as a regular part of the ongoing school improvement cycle. Not a single event, but an annual process that takes unique direction each year based on the data analyzed and the dynamics of the team.

In CESA 7, opportunity is provided for participants to achieve graduate credit for participation in the Data Retreat® Workshops plus follow-up work during the subsequent school year. You may register for graduate credit for Data Retreat® Workshops by contacting the UW-Green Bay Office of Outreach and Extension, Carmen Leuthner at (920) 465-2311 or by registering the first day of the Data Retreat® Workshop.

For further information in CESA 7, contact:

Nancy Schlies, program assistant at 920-617-5613,

For further information in Wisconsin, contact your area CESA School Improvement Department.