Communicating about Data

How you communicate about data is just as important as the data you’re communicating.
People won’t use data they don’t trust. And how you communicate about data—the words you use, the context you share, the languages you translate your words into—impacts how communities perceive it. Below are resources that will help you communicate clearly, directly, and inclusively about data in ways that engage communities and open a dialogue to find solutions.
A teacher helps a student with a physics assignment.

Toolkits for Effectively Communicating about Data

The Consumer’s Guide to Data: Data reflects a series of decisions made by people—and those decisions affect the story that data tells, what it captures, and how it can and should be used to inform decisionmaking. Mistrust in data is often the result of incomplete information and a lack of context. Stakeholders at all levels can use the information in this resource to do their part to build public trust in data.

More Than a Number: Tools for Talking about Education Data: Proactive, two-way communication is the best way to create an environment in which people trust, value, and use data to help individuals excel. Data is most valuable when it is providing useful information to support student pathways through education and the workforce and is communicated in a way that is inclusive of how communities see themselves. State and local leaders and advocates can use this resource to help them plan and act on communications about the value of data and its collection, use, and protection in their state—and about why data is valuable to student learning.

Data 101: A Briefing Book for Policymakers on Education to Workforce Data: Policymakers need data to inform policy decisions. Likewise, everyone involved in an individual’s education needs timely, accurate data to provide insights and drive improvements. DQC’s Data 101 is a briefing book that brings policymakers up to speed on the major topics they need to know about so they can not only communicate about them, but also pursue productive policy changes with confidence.

Infographics for Explaining Complex Topics

From sophisticated systems to individual use, data is critically important to ensuring that data works for everyone navigating their education and workforce journeys. Throughout the years, DQC has released over a dozen infographics that illustrate what it looks like when individuals have the data and the tools they need to make informed decisions.

Who Uses Student Data?: Districts, states, and the federal government all collect data about students for important purposes like informing instruction and providing information to the public. This infographic shows how student data—from schools to the US Department of Education—is and is not accessed and used.

What is Student Data?: See the types of data that can come together—under requirements like privacy and security—to form a full picture of student learning. When used effectively, data empowers everyone.

Grace’s Path to Success: Each student has their own strengths and goals that inform the education and workforce options they pursue—and each deserves to achieve success on the path they’ve chosen. See how one student, Grace, uses data to make important decisions that help her reach her goals, from early education to career.

View all of DQC’s infographics.

Public Opinion Research for Insights into Speaking to Your Audiences

Public opinion research provides insights into how parents, teachers, principals, and leaders think about education data and data use. Since 2016, we have been asking parents, teachers and principals directly to share their opinions on important issues in education data—from access to privacy. The findings from this research inform the resources we create and the recommendations we make to ensure policies and practices related to education data are serving the needs of those closest to students.

View DQC’s opinion research, conducted by The Harris Poll, since 2016.

Resources to Help You Communicate about Data

These resources provide additional information on how different people use education data to help individuals succeed.

Best Practices in Communicating about Education Data

DQC’s annual review of state report cards explores how states use their most public-facing resource.

Data 101

Data is one of the most powerful tools to inform, engage, and create opportunities for individuals along their journey through education and into the workforce—and it‘s much more than test scores.

About Us

We advocate to change the role of data to ensure that data works for everyone navigating their education and workforce journeys.