Creighton discusses evidence based decision making in Leading from Below the Surface (2005). A critical component of evidence based decision making is a willingness to investigate the existing data. Currently, most school leaders do not go beyond what is readily apparent with their data to see what other inferences can be made. To be able to have the most impact upon the lives of students, administrators at all levels must go further that what meets the eye.
In Leading from Below the Surface, Creighton refers to the children that are sometimes "below the surface" including children of color and non-English speaking students, many of whom are considered subgroups by the federal legislation, No Child Left Behind (No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Pub. L. No. 107110, 115Stat. 1425.). The NCLB standards require schools to identify students that are in particular subgroups such as Black, Hispanic, English Language Learners (ELL), Special Education and Economically Disadvantaged. School leaders must monitor achievement and progress of children in the respective subgroups in order to achieve Adequately Yearly Progress (AYP).
Educators often refer to achievement gaps that occur between African American students when they are compared to Caucasian students, but with the influx of refugees from Africa, there are some schools that have a majority of students that are considered a part of the Black Subgroup, that are also receiving ELL services. This phenomenon impacts this particular subgroup because the nation's largest immigrant and/or refugee population consists of Hispanic students and they have a defined group in NCLB. Does the performance of the ELL students positively or negatively affect performance in achieving AYP for specific subgroups? Does the roll of ELL learners influence outcomes on AYP? To answer these questions, one must make evidenced based decisions that investigate from below the surface.
Schools with high ELL populations that include African students must identify and monitor the achievement of both groups when coupled within a large African American student community. Africans should be treated with the same degree of conscientiousness as minority, special education children because of the impact that those particular students have on achieving AYP. Perhaps a school has an achievement gap, meaning Caucasians score 1520% higher on standardized tests than their African American counterparts. The school may also have a high African population that has recently migrated to the U.S. Does the performance of the African students have a positive or negative impact on the performance of the Black subgroup as a whole?