Who Uses Education Data?

Everyone needs data to answer their questions and make informed decisions.

When individuals, families, educators, communities, and policymakers have access to quality data, individuals are empowered to make informed decisions for their futures.


Different People Use Data in Different Ways

Individuals & Families

Individuals and their families need data to understand where they stand, set goals, and navigate their paths to success—from early education to the workforce.


Educators and school leaders need data to understand student progress, evaluate instruction, and target supports where needed.

Education Community

System leaders, researchers, policymakers, and advocates need data to measure overall progress, identify gaps, and allocate funding and resources.

Dive Deeper

Individuals, from schoolchildren to adult learners, and those closest to them use data on their own progress as well as external measures of success, such as grade-level learning standards.

They also need information on the systems they are navigating, such as how well local schools are meeting students’ needs or which postsecondary opportunities are available to them. With this information, individuals and families are empowered to make informed decisions and pursue the best pathways for their needs, priorities, and goals.

The other people that make up these support systems—teachers, school leaders, counselors, community partners, and more—need data to help individuals along their paths to success:

  • Teachers can use data on student learning to evaluate and adapt their own instruction.
  • School and district leaders can use this information to inform professional development and programming decisions. 
  • College administrators can use data to better understand their students’ career aspirations and ensure that their postsecondary opportunities prepare them for the future.

Ensuring all of these people can access data and communicate with each other ensures that every individual has their needs met and is set up for success.

At the same time, policymakers, researchers, and education and workforce leaders depend on aggregate data to see the “big picture” of how schools and institutions are effectively meeting individuals’ needs. With access to data, they can identify best practices and promote policies and programs that are shown to improve outcomes for individuals. Leaders need data to see where gaps between student groups persist and allocate resources where they are most needed. In these ways, state leaders can leverage data to create more effective and equitable education and workforce systems.

Leaders at all levels have a responsibility to ensure that everyone can access data that answers their questions. They must break down information silos at the state and local levels by connecting data from P–20W (early childhood, K–12, postsecondary, and workforce) in their data systems and provide tools and resources to help people effectively use data in decisionmaking. Robust privacy policies are essential to protect individuals’ data and maintain public trust in data use. By promoting meaningful access to data at every level, state leaders help to build a culture of data use in which individuals are set up for success from day one.

I know my strengths and where I need to grow. I can shape my own education journey.

K-12 Students

I know which educational programs will provide me the skills I need to pivot from or progress in my current career.

Adult Learners

I know what actions to take to help my child on their path to success. I can be a better champion for them.


I know where my students are succeeding and struggling right now. I can help them grow.


I know what’s working and what isn’t in my school. I can make timely decisions and make sure resources support great teaching and improve student learning.

School Leaders

I know my graduated students’ postsecondary and workforce outcomes so I can better support my current students as they transition out of high school.

Guidance Counselors

I know more about the academic background of my students. I can better support their postsecondary education.

College Administrators

I understand the unique strengths and challenges facing these students in the classroom. I can help families and communities create more out-of-school time opportunities to support student success.

Community Partners

I know how well we are meeting the workforce needs of our community. I can refine our approach to guiding our clients to education providers that provide them with the skills they need to succeed in their careers.

Local Workforce Board Staff

I know the effectiveness of a statewide initiative to improve STEM pathways. I can use this insight to work with decisionmakers to improve the program.


I know how my state is progressing on our education and workforce goals. I can make informed decisions on where and how to appropriate resources to push us further on our goals.

State Leaders

Related Resources

These resources provide additional information on how different people use education data to help individuals succeed.

Stakeholders at all levels can use the information in this resource to do their part to build public trust in data.
Time to Act 2020 explores five key themes that marked this year—and that will frame education policy conversations next year.

Data Use in the News

Our Work

We envision a world where data is used to drive systemic change, economic mobility, and student success.

About Us

We advocate to change the role of data to ensure that data works for everyone navigating their education and workforce journeys.