In 2020, state legislators have remained focused on making data available to address education challenges. More and more, policymakers are introducing bills that would address the information needs of students, educators, parents, and the public, though most new education data laws do not systematically support data use.
As the COVID-19 crisis continues, legislators should think holistically about how to leverage state data infrastructure to support decisionmaking and improvement at all levels.
education data bills were introduced in 41 states.
of these bills were signed into law in 22 states.
COVID-19 Prompted States to Go Back to Data Basics
Though activity slowed and legislators’ focus shifted, education data remained a consideration in legislation introduced after the COVID-19 crisis began in March. 14 percent of education data bills focused on pandemic response.
The field is only just beginning to understand how the pandemic will change education data policymaking, but some early themes that emerged from these bills were attendance and enrollment data; assessments, reporting, and accountability; data for state leaders to understand where students are academically; local data needs; and effects of online learning.
Promising Strategies in This Year’s Legislation
Breaking down silos to answer state questions. 28 of this year’s education data bills would require linking or sharing data across state agencies.
Providing foundations for meaningful transparency. 60 of this year’s education data bills considered data transparency in some way. Some of this legislation focused on transparency for college and career pathways data, discipline data, or financial data.
Supporting local data tools. A handful of states considered bills that would establish a state role for ensuring that those closest to students have the tools they need to gather data to support student learning, especially for specific groups of students.
Safeguarding data in the digital age. 43 education data bills expressly focused on safeguarding student data; 5 of them became law. 5 states considered bills that would account for postsecondary student data privacy.
Ensuring secure access to data for those supporting underserved students. Some of this year’s education data bills addressed the need to ensure that those closest to students have access to the right information at the right time, including adults who support students outside of the classroom. All of these bills focused on supporting traditionally underserved students, such as students in foster care.
Education Data Legislation Review: 2020 State Activity
The Data Quality Campaign tracks legislation in all 50 states and the District of Columbia with provisions that expressly affect the collection and use of education data. The numbers included in this summary reflect state legislation introduced by October 9, 2020.