Press Releases

Don’t Turn Out the Light

Don’t Turn Out the Light

The Data Quality Campaign’s Statement on the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act


WASHINGTON—January 23, 2015—The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides an opportunity to transform the role of data in education. The 2002 requirement to disaggregate data and provide them to the public has made it possible to have greater transparency and more accurate measures of academic performance than ever before. Congress now has the opportunity to build on this success and leverage the power of data as a tool to shine a light on what is working; inform continuous improvement; and empower parents, educators, and everyone who has stake in education with information they can use to help students succeed.

There has been an understandable backlash toward testing, because in many places those who stand to benefit the most from education data—parents—are still not receiving the most robust analysis of their child’s academic progress. While every state now has the capacity, just 17 states can ensure parents have access to this data about their own children’s progress over time. The opportunity in this reauthorization is to ensure every parent and teacher has the data they need to make informed decisions about the children in their care.

We can’t reduce the amount of useful information we are just now starting to get into the hands of the people most deserving of it. Ending annual statewide assessments would pull the plug on a crucial information source. Why would we turn out the light just as it starts to illuminate the path forward in ways we only dreamt of a decade ago?

Annual statewide assessments have provided rich student growth data to:

  • shine a light on how well different groups of students and individual students do in school, as measured not just by proficiency but by progress made over time
  • inform interventions
  • help us better understand the impact teachers have on their students’ performance
  • empower parents with the information they need to better advocate for their child

States have spent the past decade building longitudinal data systems that provide stakeholders with much more robust information than snapshots of a moment in time. The Colorado Growth Model provides this valuable data to the public in aggregate form and to families and teachers at the student level in an easy-to-understand format to guide their decisionmaking. This success and that of every other growth model are made possible only through annual statewide assessments.

Rather than turning back the clock and ending the annual statewide assessments that have given us the richest information we’ve ever had on student learning, ESEA reauthorization should prioritize getting parents and teachers the information they deserve and empower them to be true partners in their children’s education.

For more information, please review DQC’s specific recommendations for ESEA reauthorization to support the role of data in improving decisionmaking in education. We look forward to this important conversation over the next few months.