For five years, the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) has tracked state legislation around the governance, protection, and use of education data. This is the first in a series of blogs highlighting notable legislation from the 2019 legislative session.
To date in the 2019 legislative session, DQC has tracked 290 bills in 45 states, with 22 becoming law in 9 states. These bills cover a range of issues and approaches, reflecting each state’s unique politics and priorities. They also vary in their level of potential impact on data use. Some of these bills would bring major changes to the use or governance of education data statewide while others incorporate data use as a small piece of a broader proposal to improve some aspect of public education. While this year’s state legislation has touched education data issues ranging from school safety to computer science education to new public reports on student outcomes, a few key themes have emerged in pending legislation across the country.
State legislators in the 2019 legislative session are proposing bills to:
- Govern the activities of third-party service providers as a means for protecting privacy. Safeguarding data privacy is an integral part of effective data use. While there are fewer bills focused on student data privacy compared to years past, state legislatures are still prioritizing this issue. Most of this year’s privacy bills seek to establish protections for third-party operators’ use of data. Some of these bills are in states that have not yet created statewide policy in this area, while others are efforts to update and improve existing laws to better account for current practice.
- Use data to understand student pathways from early childhood to workforce. State leaders recognize that data is needed to answer their most pressing education policy questions and ensure their schools are preparing students for college and career. This year many states have introduced bills that would, in various ways, allow them to use aggregated data to understand how students fare across their education journey through data systems that are traditionally siloed, such as early childhood, K–12, postsecondary and the workforce.
- Generating evidence about new or existing education programs and practices. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) encourages states to use different types of evidence to choose and implement programs that work best for their communities. Policymakers have demonstrated growing interest in acting on this opportunity by introducing bills that incorporate the use of data to evaluate the effectiveness of new or existing education programs and practices.
Stay tuned as we dig into each of these themes in the coming weeks, including notable state examples that stood out during our tracking. In the meantime, explore our summary of legislative trends from the 2018 session and dive deeper into specific topic areas like highly-mobile students and school safety and equity.
This blog post is also available as a story on Medium.