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COVID-19 Recovery Requires Data: What State and District Leaders Can Do Now and Long Term to Promote Recovery

COVID-19 Recovery Requires Data: What State and District Leaders Can Do Now and Long Term to Promote Recovery

New resources detail action steps for state and district leaders to support recovery through data use

WASHINGTON (July 21, 2020) – States and districts face unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 crisis. As they continue to consider and implement solutions, one thing is clear: successful recovery depends on data. The Data Quality Campaign’s (DQC) latest resources—the first two in a series of four—are designed to help leaders determine the best path forward. The resources identify the short- and long-term steps that leaders should take to promote recovery in their states and districts and to ensure that students succeed.

“State and district leaders need information to shine a light on how students and teachers are doing during online learning and to identify what is and isn’t working. Leaders already have data and can start on these efforts to improve transparency through report cards and research today, as they continue to plan for their paths forward, said Data Quality Campaign President and CEO Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger. “In both the short and long term, state leaders must ensure that their data infrastructure enables them to use the data they have to address the needs of the moment, and they should build systems that allow them to use other data to benefit all students.”

Promoting Transparency and Maintaining Public Trust: Report Cards and the COVID-19 Crisis calls on state leaders to release this year’s report card as planned. Decisionmakers and communities must be equipped with the data they need to answer their most pressing questions about the unique challenges schools and communities will face as they move into recovery. The most direct and transparent way for state leaders to communicate this information is through their report cards. In planning the release of this year’s report cards, state leaders should prioritize:

  • Providing context that helps people understand and interpret this year’s data, including clear explanations of adjustments made to indicators and why the data matters.
  • Proactively communicating how the report card will and will not be used and how this data can support local leaders’ decisionmaking.
  • Engaging with local and community partners to help spread the message about the value of the information states include on their report cards and how these resources can help inform recovery efforts.

Using Data to Understand What Works: Research and the COVID-19 Crisis underscores the critical nature of research for recovery efforts. State and district budgets are spread thin as a result of the pandemic, leaving state and district leaders to make tough decisions about what to prioritize and where to invest resources. Actionable research provides state and district leaders with insights into the policies and programs that best serve their communities. State leaders must:

  • Prioritize investing in their data systems, quickly gathering information from the communities they serve, and mobilizing research partnerships to answer more complex questions.
  • Adapt the state’s existing research agenda or invest in new research solutions that provide states with critical information that will enable them to spend responsibly and identify best practices in the current education landscape.
  • Begin the long-term, multistep process of building an effective research infrastructure.

“State and district leaders are facing new challenges every day. But successful recovery requires education data,” said Bell-Ellwanger. “Leaders should use all of the data they have to ensure students succeed and invest in the systems to make vital decisions and communicate with the public about student progress in the future.”

Read DQC’s COVID-19 recovery resources on our website.


Contact: Blair Mann,, 610-724-5914

About the Data Quality Campaign
The Data Quality Campaign is a nonprofit policy and advocacy organization leading the effort to bring every part of the education community together to empower educators, families, and policymakers with quality information to make decisions that ensure that students excel. For more information, go to and follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@EdDataCampaign).