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National Poll Finds Parents Eager for the Next Generation of Education Data, Teachers Still Face Challenges in Data Use Today

National Poll Finds Parents Eager for the Next Generation of Education Data, Teachers Still Face Challenges in Data Use Today

State policymakers and school leaders can take action now to meet the needs of both groups

WASHINGTON (September 10, 2019) – The Data Quality Campaign’s fourth parent poll and second teacher poll—conducted by The Harris Poll—make clear that debates about parent and teacher support for education data can be put to rest. Ninety percent of parents say they need data to understand their child’s progress and help them do their best, and 86 percent of teachers believe that using data is an important part of being an effective teacher. These strong commitments to data are driving parents and teachers to want more information, and state policymakers and school leaders are responsible for acting on this increased demand today.

Parents haven’t just embraced education data, they’re ready for data to be used in new ways.

  • State policymakers must understand that disaggregating data is about more than checking boxes—it’s data parents want and deserve. More than 80 percent of parents overall, including 92 percent of Black parents and 78 percent of Hispanic parents, want to know how schools serve students like theirs. Despite this, more than 40 states fail to share disaggregated data for at least one federally required student group on their report cards.
  • Parents recognize that learning happens all throughout the day—and that all of the adults who are helping their students need access to data to support success. Almost 70 percent of parents agree that schools should be able to share information about a child’s performance in school with organizations outside of school, like Boys and Girls Clubs and tutoring programs.
  • A students’ journey doesn’t end with K–12, and the value of sharing data with agencies that support their children’s outcomes beyond education and into postsecondary and the workforce is not lost on parents. More than 70 percent of parents agree that different public agencies should securely share information with each other about children and their families to improve services and the allocation of resources.

“Seventy percent of parents don’t agree on much. And when most parents are saying that they understand that those closest to students need data to make decisions to support student success, it’s time to listen,” said Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger, president and CEO of DQC. “Parents’ demands are bold—but they can happen right now. State policymakers should take these findings as a sign to dig in and take steps to provide parents in their states with the data they need.”

Teachers also continue to value the use of data in helping students, but are left to build their own capacity to put this information to work. Policymakers and school leaders continue to miss critical opportunities throughout a teacher’s career to ensure they are getting the skills and time needed to use data to improve their practice and student outcomes.

  • Teachers aren’t getting what they need in educator preparation programs, so they’re teaching themselves. Almost half of teachers (45 percent) report that they taught themselves data on the job; only 17 percent report learning how to use data in their preservice teacher training program.
  • Teachers find data use so important that they’re making time for it, even if administrators aren’t. More than 80 percent of teachers report that they find themselves dipping into personal time to apply student data to their lesson plans and teaching practices; only slightly more than half agree that their principal or assistant principal ensures that teachers have the time they need to use data effectively.

“Teachers have proven that they believe data use is important enough to spend their own time making it happen. But they shouldn’t have to navigate effective data use by themselves,” said Bell-Ellwanger. “Leaders at every level must do more to remove this burden—and ensure that they are not missing critical opportunities to provide teachers with the skills they need to use data effectively to increase student success. By making changes like supporting the development of data literacy skills in educator preparation programs and modeling data use in schools, policymakers and administrators can be certain that teachers aren’t going it alone.”

The teacher and parent surveys were conducted online within the US by The Harris Poll on behalf of DQC. For the second year in a row, teachers were polled on their attitudes toward data collection and use in schools. This is the fourth year of the parent poll, which was first conducted in November 2015. Teacher polling was conducted May 5–14, 2019, among 750 full-time teachers in the United States, all of whom were currently employed teaching grades K–12. Parent polling was conducted May 1–6, 2019, among 1,013 parents with at least one child age 5–17 who attends school.

For more information on DQC’s 2019 national parent and teacher polls, including recommendations on what leaders can do to support teacher data use, visit DQC’s website.


Contact: Blair Mann,, 202-393-7192

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).