Arkansas and Delaware have taken 10 major steps on the path to data-driven education.
These two states are the only ones who have followed all of the action items recommended by the Data Quality Campaign, a nonprofit advocacy organization that surveys 50 states and the District of Columbia on their educational data use each year (California opted not to participate this year). In the Data for Action 2013 report published on Tuesday, Nov. 19, the campaign showed how states were doing on items including student-level progress reports, data policies and linking state K-12 data systems with other data systems such as higher education.
Arkansas and Delaware have accomplished so much because of consistent, strong leadership from the legislature, the governor's office and the chief school officers, said Aimee Guidera, executive director of the Data Quality Campaign. And their work sets the standard for other states because they pay attention to quality.
"They're not just doing this stuff, they're doing it at the highest level of implementation, which is just terrific," Guidera said.
Here are the 10 steps they've accomplished:
1. Link state K–12 data systems with early learning, postsecondary, workforce, and other critical state agency data systems.
2. Create stable, sustainable support for longitudinal data systems.
3. Develop governance structures to guide data collection and use.
4. Build state data repositories.
5. Provide timely, role-based access to data while protecting privacy.
6. Create progress reports with student-level data for educators, students, and parents.
7. Create reports with longitudinal statistics to guide system-level change.
8. Develop a purposeful research agenda.
9. Implement policies and promote practices to build educators’ capacity to use data.
10. Promote strategies to raise awareness of available data.
While these two states lead the way, 15 states are following close behind with eight or nine actions completed. Indiana, Kentucky, Maine and Oregon have all of the actions but the policy piece in No. 9, while Texas has all but No. 5.
One of the biggest areas of growth this year has been better feedback to teacher preparation programs on how their graduates are doing in the classroom (No. 9). Seventeen states now share this information compared to eight last year.
Another important piece of the states' work is enabling personalized learning. By providing greater access to information about individual students, 35 states are giving teachers data they can use to tailor their instruction to each student, Guidera said.
And legislators are getting the message that data is important. While Oklahoma may only have three out of the 10 actions completed, it's legislature passed a law this year that addressed data security.
"States are realizing that good information is critical to getting the results that we want to have in education, and unless we build strong robust longitudinal data systems and build a culture that values the use of data ..., we will never meet our goals for ensuring that every child is prepared for the knowledge economy," Guidera said.