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New Polls Show Parents and Teachers Continue to Demand Access to Timely and Reliable Education Data

New Polls Show Parents and Teachers Continue to Demand Access to Timely and Reliable Education Data

However, many parents lack awareness about data available and teachers face barriers in effectively using data

WASHINGTON (Sept. 12, 2018) – Parents and teachers agree that education data is necessary to make important decisions in support of students. The Data Quality Campaign’s third parent poll and first teacher poll – conducted by The Harris Poll – found that parents overwhelmingly support teachers’ use of data to enrich their child’s educational experience, and that teachers value the various ways data make them more effective at teaching.

“Data is a key conversation starter for parents and teachers to collaborate and reinforce each other’s work to support students, but this can only happen if we ensure they have the time and support they need to use it effectively,” said Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger, president and CEO of the Data Quality Campaign (DQC). “States can and should continue their efforts to create a culture of data use that puts students at the center.”

Teachers are looking for more than just test scores and grades to help them understand their students’ learning and to communicate with parents about their child’s performance. The poll found that 95 percent of teachers use a combination of academic data and nonacademic data such as attendance and classroom behavior to understand performance. And a majority of teachers – 89 percent – are relying on data to help personalize learning for each student’s unique needs.

Meanwhile, 93 percent of parents say they not only value data, but they need it to better understand their child’s progress in school so they can best support their learning. Parents’ support for teachers using data to ensure students are getting support and enrichment held steady at the same rate as the 2017 poll (95 percent). In addition to academic data, parents – especially younger parents – have an appetite for information about their child’s social emotional learning to help ensure they’re developing skills such as resilience, motivation, empathy, collaboration and optimism.

“For families to be meaningfully engaged in their child’s education, they need clear, timely information on their child’s learning experiences and expect that information to be kept safe,” said Jim Accomando, president of National PTA. “We need to ensure that families in every state have data that is accessible, useful and meaningful so they can be strong advocates for their students.”

While both parents and teachers recognize the value of data, teachers report time as the biggest barrier preventing them from using data to support student learning. While teachers see the power of data and feel supported by principals in their data use, 57 percent say they do not have enough time during the school day to access and use it.

States need to do more to ensure those closest to students know data is available and offer it in an accessible and understandable format. According to the poll, more than 42 percent of parents surveyed did not look at a school or district report card in the past 12 months. And of those parents, 40 percent were unaware such resources existed.

“One essential tool for determining if schools are meeting performance goals and serving all students equitably is state report cards. While states have made some progress in creating higher quality report cards, many remain difficult to find and confusing to navigate,” said Ryan Smith, executive director of The Education Trust-West. “When developed in a manner that seeks and responds to feedback from teachers and parents, report cards can provide easy-to-understand snapshots of how well schools are serving all of their students based on multiple measures of school quality, such as attendance and academic progress, as well as how schools compare to others in that community, district or state.”

Other key findings include:

  • More than 8 in 10 teachers say they value the various ways data make them more effective at teaching, such as using it to identify learning goals, know what concepts students learn, and plan and enhance instruction reflective of the data.
  • Ninety-six percent of teachers say they value data on students’ social emotional learning as an important measure of their development and growth.
  • Ninety percent of parents say a school’s overall performance rating, typically the letter grade or star rating it receives, helps them make decisions about their child’s education; similarly, almost 9 in 10 parents report that performance data such as test scores and graduation rates have at least some influence on their decision-making.
  • What is important to parents when it comes to school quality sometimes varies by demographic. For instance, 60 percent of African American parents indicate school safety as a factor that helps them to determine the quality of a school, compared to 44 percent of white parents – an important reminder that parents need access to data.

While support for data use to improve student outcomes is widespread, states have a role to play in creating a culture of data use that puts students at the center. To see how, check out DQC’s Four Policy Priorities to Make Data Work for Students.

The teacher and parent surveys were conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of DQC. For the first time this year, teachers were polled on their attitudes toward data collection and use in schools. This is the third year of the parent poll, which was first conducted in November 2015. Teacher polling was conducted from May 23-26, 2018, among 762 full-time teachers, all of whom were currently employed teaching grades K-12. Parent polling was conducted from May 17-21, 2018 among 914 parents of children ages 5-17, 842 of whom have children who attend school.

For more information on DQC’s 2018 parent and teacher polls, see the infographics which highlight key findings.


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).