In 2021, state legislators remained focused on using data to address COVID-19 and its impact on education and the workforce. Although there was a marked increase in the number of bills introduced this year, this level of legislative activity focused on education data is not new, and the ongoing pandemic left unique footprints on policymakers’ legislative priorities this year.
data-related bills were introduced in 45 states.
of these bills were signed into law in 38 states.
COVID-19 Recovery Requires Renewed Perspectives on Established Concepts
This year, policymakers continued to face extraordinary challenges and new questions about the pandemic’s ongoing and inequitable impact on student experiences, educators, and schools. We saw legislators consider bills to identify new data elements needed to understand the pandemic’s impacts, reconsider the role of assessment and other tools, and strengthen their state’s data systems.
2021 Legislative Activity Illustrated Several Themes:
- Renewing conversations about education equity. When schools and districts abruptly transitioned to distance and virtual learning in 2020, education disruptions exacerbated already-existing inequities for students. Data is a critical tool for understanding the nature and impact of education inequities.
- Changing postsecondary plans and pathways into the workforce. Families and education leaders will undoubtedly need robust, longitudinal data on students’ postsecondary pathways to navigate the pandemic’s long-term effects.
- Protecting privacy while providing online learning. When schools closed in spring 2020 in response to COVID-19, educators adopted numerous online learning tools and platforms to support remote learning efforts.
- Understanding learning loss and the use of assessments. Without data from 2020 statewide annual assessments to look to as they determine student needs, many state leaders are reevaluating how they measure student learning and how they use assessments.
- Governing data systems and generating insights. The operational, education, and workforce disruptions caused by the pandemic prompted many state leaders to rely on their statewide data systems in new ways to streamline the administration of family services and track student learning.
Alongside this resource, DQC’s Principles for Education Data serves as a guide to creating legislation that builds trust in data, makes it useful to communities, and supports policy goals.
Education Data Legislation Review: 2021 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 bills introduced by July 15, 2021 and laws enacted by October 29, 2021.