Twitter was abuzz yesterday as the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) met to discuss a revamp of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—or No Child Left Behind (NCLB) as its most recent (2001) reauthorization is known. Those of us at DQC were ourselves abuzz because there was so much discussion of data! Senators offered, and accepted, a range of amendments focusing on the collection, reporting, and use of data.
A few #eddata highlights:
- Senator Baldwin’s (D-WI) amendment, which asks states to review their annual assessments for quantity and quality, also asks that audits of assessment quality take into account how the assessment data is being usedby educators. Throughout the ESEA hearing yesterday, I was so happy to see the focus on the need not just to have data, but to use it. Earlier versions of Baldwin’s amendment (known as the SMART Act) also included provisions for teacher and school leader training in assessment and data literacy. I would love to see this focus on the skills needed to use data be part of ESEA conversations going forward.
- Senator Bennet (D-CO) offered an amendment, which passed, that asks states to audit their data systems to be sure that they are meeting the data use needs of districts while reducing their reporting burden. I was floored—and thrilled—to see the focus on alignment and reducing the burden on districts from collection and compliance!
- Much conversation was had about the types of data points that should be collected by states and included on state report cards, like information about career and technical education (passed), military status (passed), and cross-tabulation and disaggregation of data (failed). While some of these ideas were more popular than others with the committee, the focus on including information on state report cards that provides a more comprehensive picture of kids and schools was just great. DQC recommends that Congress also consider ways to support and incentivize states to create easy-to-access, -use, and -read report cards that meet 2015 realities.
While there are many hearings, meetings, floor votes, and likely a conference committee left before ESEA is reauthorized, it was so heartening to see an emphasis on the availability and use of quality data on the part of the Senate committee yesterday. As we say often in the DQC office, “To progress!”