Lick-Wilmerding High School - Institutional Researcher

In June 2015 the E E Ford Foundation approved a matching grant of $50,000 to help fund the work of the Institutional Researcher at Lick-Wilmerding High School (LWHS).

A private school with public purpose, Lick-Wilmerding High School develops the head, heart, and hands of highly motivated students from all walks of life, inspiring them to become lifelong learners who contribute to the world with confidence and compassion.

Since its founding in 1895, LWHS has been a notably innovative place of learning, providing students with an exemplary college preparatory curriculum with a distinctive program in the technical arts. The school is committed to educating students in a purposefully diverse community: 38% of our students participate in our Flexible Tuition program, (currently 26% of the operating budget.); our 490 students commute from throughout the Bay Area; and 52% of our students identify as people of color.

The Institutional Researcher position was created in 2014 and has quickly proven to be an important asset in helping us understand ourselves and inform decisions as we seek to meet our mission. There are many drivers that compelled us to apply for support to expand this position at LWHS. Utilizing Tableau Software to collect more data about how well we are achieving our mission, we are able:

  • To counter the weight of anecdote for understanding school culture
  • To speak with more authority about the school’s students and programs
  • To discover areas that need attention and intervention
  • To generate support for incremental change from all constituencies
  • To generate support to secure necessary resources
  • To push conversations forward about how we are meeting our mission
  • To provide the quantitative and qualitative data needed to relate across difference and see through different lenses
  • To better serve our community, especially our students

As a very diverse community that chooses to use our resources in large part to create an economically diverse student body, it is vital to understand both the impact the school is making on the lives of its students, and the impact these students are making on the school community.

Increased band width for the Institutional Researcher role allows us to develop better and deeper metrics to measure the cognitive and non-cognitive growth in our students as well as develop the tools needed to improve overall instruction and the impact on students. As a school that philosophically applies the concepts of a growth mindset to all of our endeavors, being able to measure the growth of our students across four years of high school is vital to understanding how we deliver on our mission.

Additionally, by increasing the statistical literacy of all members of the community, we hope to build a culture of informed decision-making. This includes how we collect and interpret data as well as how we implement interventions so that we can intentionally assess the effectiveness of our efforts.

Finally, we seek to continue to work with colleagues at other independent schools on this important initiative, and we find that we have the opportunity to fully develop the position of Institutional Researcher as a national model for other independent schools.

For more information about LWHS, please visit

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