As the new administration announces its priorities and Congress introduces its first pieces legislation this session, we’re noticing an important trend: a commitment to data. As an organization focused on education data policy and use, it’s no surprise that we’re encouraged by these developments. And we’ll be keeping a close eye as federal and state leaders work to implement these initiatives.
Following are all of the announcements we’ve seen so far:
- Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities (January 20): Addresses elevating community engagement, figuring out to how assess inequalities in federal agency outcomes, and using these findings to inform the President’s budget. This executive order establishes an Equitable Data Working Group to ensure that federal datasets are disaggregated by race, ethnicity, gender, disability, income, veteran status, or other key demographic variables. Disaggregating data is key to understanding disparities and identifying solutions.
- Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers (January 21): Released as part of the Biden administration’s larger COVID-19 response plan, this executive order on school reopening instructs the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services to collect data to understand the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students and educators. DQC President and CEO Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger took a deep dive into what this executive order means for data use through recovery and in the long term last week.
- Ensuring a Data-Driven Response to COVID-19 (January 21): This executive order instructs federal leaders to make data relevant to high-consequence public health threats, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, publicly available and accessible. Public access to comprehensive data about how the pandemic impacted communities across the country will help education leaders make important decisions to support students and educators.
- Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking (January 27): Emphasizes the Administration’s commitment to science, data and evidence free from political interference and creates the Task Force on Scientific Integrity. The memo notes, “Scientific and technological information, data, and evidence are central to the development and iterative improvement of sound policies, and to the delivery of equitable programs, across every area of government.”
- Operation Reverse the Loss (December 9): The Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) addressed the actions that IES wants to take to address learning loss through research. Strategies in this memo include research to understand the crisis and accelerate discovery (including a Learning Pulse survey), respond to the crisis with new tools to help students catch up, and make sure the most high-need students don’t get left behind.
- Learning Recovery Act of 2021 (January 28): If passed, this legislation would provide funding to build out summer school, extend school days, or extend schools programs, and would direct IES to conduct research on learning loss. The grant program established by this legislation would require local education agencies to use funding to measure learning loss, and allow the use of some funding to assess learning and provide teachers with professional development on using these assessments to personalize learning.
Based on this flurry of activity in the first few weeks of the Biden administration, we don’t expect these will be the last signals of a commitment to data. We’ll share further updates as we see them!