Why It Matters to Look at Students’ Assets, Instead of Focusing on Deficits

Data Systems That Work, Empowering Families and Communities, Strong Teachers and Leaders
Why It Matters to Look at Students’ Assets, Instead of Focusing on Deficits

Conscious or not, how we talk about a problem gives away a lot about how we view the solution. While state leaders have outlined bold equity goals to improve the outcomes of all students, these goals can’t be met if the data used to measure and support them reflect conscious or unconscious bias. To help those closest to students understand what this means and their role in addressing it, DQC’s blog series examines how we can shift the way we talk and how we think about today’s education issues to ensure the success of every student.

Students Aren’t Empty Cups: If we only think of students as what they lack, we stop ourselves from recognizing what they bring to the table. And how we use data to talk about those students and their academic success has a major impact on how we think about their abilities to learn and the tools we create to help improve their achievement. This first post introduces the concept of asset framing and describes how practitioners in Chicago focused on their student’s strengths, rather than deficits, to improve student success.

Putting Data Disaggregation in Context: Data doesn’t come to life on its own. The way student data is constructed and shared has the power to impact how we, intentionally or unintentionally, creative narratives around a student’s potential. Our second post addresses how shifting the way you frame data changes how you interpret and use it to solve a problem.

The Harder (Data) Work: Now that we can identify what goes into collecting and using data, it’s on us to challenge our own perspectives, acknowledge existing opportunity gaps, and use data to dispel myths around achievement. Our third and final post in this series examines what this looks like in action for educators, including the challenges they face when applying asset framing to their use of data in service of student learning.