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Accountability & Reporting

District Data Leader of the Year Program

The Florida Department of Education's Lavan Dukes District Data Leader of the Year Program highlights the critical role district superintendents play in supporting and encouraging the use of data to improve students' college and career readiness. The Lavan Dukes District Data Leader of the Year Program recognizes superintendents who are leading the way using education data to drive student improvement. The program focuses on district data leaders' contributions to improve students' education outcomes through the use of data.

The award is named in memory of Lavan Dukes and his countless contributions to the Florida Department of Education and the nation in building a strong foundation in the collection and use of K-12 education data. Dukes served the FDOE and the state of Florida for 40 years, most recently serving as chief of the Bureau of Education Information and Accountability Services.

Dr. Kamela Patton is the 2017 Lavan Dukes District Data Leader of the Year

Dr. Kamela Patton - 2017 Lavan Dukes District Data Leader of the Year

As a result of Superintendent Dr. Kamela Patton’s leadership over the last six years, Collier County Public Schools (CCPS) has realized tremendous progress through a data-driven focus on continuous improvement. Of the 67 districts, Collier’s district grades ranking has risen to 5th in 2017 from 33rd in 2011. Through strategic and systematic monitoring to ensure students’ needs are met, the “A”-rated district has also seen a 15.7 percent increase in its graduation rate, up from 72.5 percent to 88.2 percent. Ten years ago, the district was put on probation by the school accreditation agency, and in 2017, they far exceeded the network’s average score and exceeded the average for every single indicator on the evaluation.

Superintendent Patton introduced Data Dialogues upon her arrival. These collaborative and targeted conversations between and among school and district leaders resulted in tremendous gains of the district as a whole. Other state and district leaders from around Florida have travelled to Collier County to observe the process. Three times per year, following state and local benchmark assessments, school leaders analyze and reflect on data compiled in the CCPS web-based Data Warehouse. This comprehensive platform allows school leaders, teachers, students and parents to analyze, interact with, and triangulate data at various levels. During her tenure, Dr. Patton expanded Data Warehouse functionality to provide custom searches and strategically tailored reporting. These enhancements have provided necessary tools for educational leaders to be “educational surgeons” in making data-based adjustments to enhance student learning.

Quarterly benchmark assessments aligned to the state standards, Student Success Plans with Early Warning Systems, more acceleration opportunities at the secondary level, integration of digital learning for both students and teachers, getting approval for local high schools to be ACT and SAT testing sites for students, the implementation of the Naviance College and Career Readiness platform for grades 6-12, and required professional learning modules for staff aspiring to become administrators are just some of the strategies Dr. Patton has implemented that have resulted in unprecedented achievement for Collier County, making the district a real success story.

Previous Award Winners

2016 - Dr. Joseph G. Joyner

Superintendent Joseph Joyner received the 2016 Lavan Dukes District Data Leader of the Year award because under his 14-year leadership, students in St. Johns consistently performed among the best in the state while continuing to make progress. St. Johns was one of only two districts that achieved an “A” grade since district grades were implemented in 2004, and in 2016, St. Johns was the highest performing district in Florida. Dr. Joyner fostered a data-driven culture with a student-first focus and the ultimate goal that all students will choose a learning path that leads to a well-rounded graduate who demonstrates good character and leadership. He embedded data so that it served as the basis for making decisions, including the use of surveys that gathered the input of teachers, parents, and students. He involved teachers in the evaluation and development of assessments in order to invest them in the accountability process and used strategies such as early release days as focused data reviews.

2014 – Sandra “Sam” Himmel

Superintendent Himmel was selected as the 2014 Lavan Dukes District Data Leader of the Year based on the accomplishments Citrus County has made through her leadership over the past 10 years. As superintendent, she has established a shared vision and clearly defined beliefs and practices that recognize the importance of data to improve student achievement and to guide the decisions and actions of all who influence the lives of Citrus County students. This mission and culture, a centerpiece of the district’s strategic plan and processes, have contributed greatly to the success of the students, teachers, schools and district. Citrus County Schools, a small rural community of 15,000 students with approximately 63 percent of these students identified as economically disadvantaged, has been honored as a “High Performing School District” for eight years in a row and has been rated an “A” school district for seven of these eight years. These achievements are directly related to Himmel’s focus on the importance of quality data, quality practices and quality staff to enhance learning.

2013 - Dr. Barbara Jenkins

Superintendent Barbara Jenkins has been dedicated to serving the needs of students for more than 25 years. She was named superintendent for Orange County Public Schools in 2012. Superintendent Jenkins leads the district through the use of student data systems, impacting practice and student performance. Under Superintendent Jenkins' leadership, Orange County public schools are at the forefront of innovative strategies to increase parent and community involvement, support teachers and administrators in the use of student data to achieve district goals, and provide targeted support to schools as needed. For example, she used student data to monitor and improve opportunities for acceleration. She also created the Minority Achievement Office and School Transformation Office to focus district attention and support to close achievement gaps and support schools that require targeted assistance.

2012 - Alberto Carvalho

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho was selected as the 2012 District Data Leader of the Year Award winner based on his visionary leadership of implementing a Data Assessment & Technical Assistance/Coordination of Management (DATA/COM) process to monitor the immediate operational needs of the districts' most struggling schools and deploy resources to deal with critical issues in an efficient and timely manner. Superintendent Carvalho led initiatives that supported Florida's successful bid for RTTT funding resulting in $700 million for Florida's schools and helped students in Miami-Dade County Public Schools outperform their national peers on the 2009 Reading, Mathematics, and Science NAEP.

2011 - MaryEllen Elia

Superintendent MaryEllen Elia was selected based on her leadership in gathering stakeholder input to create customized school- and district-level performance scorecards, as well as building a comprehensive, secure, user-friendly dashboard that combines a variety of data for her district. Leading Hillsborough County Public Schools since 2005, Superintendent Elia was instrumental in earning the district's $100 million Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant in 2009 to raise student achievement by promoting effective teaching. Since then, the district successfully negotiated a new teacher evaluation system that uses data to gauge the effectiveness of teachers.

2010 - Tom Townsend

Superintendent Tom Townsend received the award for his work in implementing the Learning Gains Index, an informative tool that uses student achievement data to help Putnam County administrators and teachers evaluate their work to determine ways they can drive continued student improvement. In his service as Putnam County's superintendent of schools, Townsend has been a strong supporter of financial planning and transparency in the local public school system. His leadership in the creation of the Learning Gains Index, which quantifies teacher effectiveness in terms of student growth, has helped to better inform his educators about their work in the classroom by examining average student growth per teacher using FCAT scores.

If you have any questions about the Lavan Dukes District Data Leader of the Year Program or if you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact the Office of Communications and External Affairs at 850-245-0413 or email

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