Time to Act 2017

More work must be done to put data in the hands of people.

Time to Act 2017: Put Data in the Hands of People summarizes states’ efforts to act on DQC’s previously released Four Policy Priorities and provides a clear set of actions that must be taken to fully realize the power of data to support all students.

The Four Policy Priorities to Make Data Work for Students are recommendations for policymakers to help transform the use of data in education and ensure that people have the information they need to answer questions and take action to support student success.

See below to download the report and explore key takeaways of our recommendations. Visit the appendix for our research methodology and a concise listing of additional resources to support putting data in the hands of people.

Time to Act 2017: Put Data in the Hands of People

Measure What Matters

States have shown leadership in collecting meaningful data that provides a picture of student and school success over time. Looking forward, there is more work to be done to ensure that state data efforts reflect state goals to serve all students regardless of their zip code.

States can measure what matters by being clear about what students must achieve and having the data to ensure that all students are on track to succeed.

To make progress toward this priority, state policymakers should:

  • Take stock of voices that are included – and not included – on your state’s P-20/workforce data governing body.
  •  Make sure your state is producing robust indicators by linking K-12 and postsecondary data with workforce data.

Bright Spot: Washington

Washington connects data across sectors to provide a fuller picture of the quality of its education system. This is possible due to the leadership and decisionmaking of its cross-sector data governance body which sets priorities around data collection, security, and research. Their work makes it possible for state and local leaders to use information to better understand what is working and what needs to change to support all students.

Make Data Use Possible

Educators and leaders at all levels have embraced the power of data to improve student achievement, but policymakers must do more to ensure that those closest to students can use data effectively.

States can make data use possible by providing teachers and leaders the flexibility, training, and support they need to answer their questions and take action.

To make progress toward this priority, state policymakers should:

  • Review your state’s teacher licensure policy to uncover opportunities to strengthen the language that requires new teachers and leaders to have data literacy skills.
  • Conduct a needs assessment of your state’s local education agencies to determine the unique data needs of each, and advocate for tools and resources to meet those needs.

Bright Spot: Delaware

Delaware puts actionable data about whether or not students are on track for college into the hands of teachers and school leaders. Knowing which students are on track gives teachers and counselors the data they need to ensure that each student has the resources needed to be college and career ready.

Be Transparent & Earn Trust

States have a responsibility and an obligation to communicate meaningful information to the public. What states do share is often outdated, difficult to find, and full of jargon, leaving the public frustrated and wondering what information to trust.

States can be transparent and earn trust by ensuring that every community understands how its schools and students are doing, why data is valuable, and how it is protected and used. To make progress toward this priority, state policymakers should:
  • Use DQC’s scavenger hunt tool to review your state’s report card for ease of use.
  • Review feedback from ESSA stakeholder engagement sessions for insight into the data most in demand by the public. Determine whether and how your state can include that information on its report card.

Bright Spot: West Virginia

West Virginia proactively and clearly communicates its data privacy practices to the public. To establish a foundation of trust, the state included multiple stakeholders with diverse perspectives in the development of its privacy policies. In response to their feedback, state leaders created an array of accessible communication materials and engagement opportunities to help the public understand and support its data privacy work.

Guarantee Access & Protect Privacy

Accessible, useful, and secure data is critical to supporting student success. States have exercised leadership in creating policy guardrails to keep student data safe, but too few educators, parents, and students have access to the information they need to support student learning.

States can guarantee access and protect privacy by providing teachers and parents timely information on their students and making sure it is kept safe. To make progress toward this priority, state policymakers should:
  • Learn from leading states that are making data available to teachers and parents; some states offer their code and additional resources for other states to use and adapt.
  • Review your state’s privacy law for opportunities to include training and technical support for districts.

Bright Spot: Georgia

Georgia created a Statewide Longitudinal Data System that provides educators secure access to state and district data in one place. Student data is safeguarded without limiting the usefulness of information to improve student achievement.