7 Education Data Actions State Policymakers Can Take

The Data Quality Campaign recommends ways that policymakers can support educators as they make more data-driven decisions.

by Tanya Roscorla / February 5, 2014 0

The Data Quality Campaign released a brief for state policymakers on how they can support effective teacher use of data.

The nonprofit organization worked with experts nationwide to create a definition of teacher data literacy that it hopes will promote a common data language in state policies. Representatives from organizations including the Council of Chief State School Officers, U.S. Department of Education and National Board for Professional Teaching Standards helped come up with the definition and seven policy recommendations for state leaders.

These policy recommendations address some of the biggest barriers for educators to use data. For example, they often don't have time to gather and use data and lack access to timely information.

"We're just dumping data in people's laps and expecting things to happen," said Aimee Rogstad Guidera, executive director of the Data Quality Campaign, in an event on Tuesday, Feb. 4.

1. Spread the definition of data literacy

These experts defined data-literate educators as ones who use information from multiple sources to help them improve learning outcomes for each student. They suggested that the definition be included in teacher policies and guidelines, such as licensure and professional development.

2. Measure the data literacy of aspiring educators

Through licensure exams and performance assessments, the group recommends that states test the data literacy skills of students who want to become licensed educators.

3. Promote ongoing professional development around data-driven instruction

By supporting professional development and providing incentives for taking it, policymakers could help educators hone their data skills.

4. Make data literacy part of teacher evaluations

If teachers are measured on data literacy skills, they can receive continual feedback on how they're using information to inform their instruction.

5. Provide actionable data that's easy for teachers to access

States should provide secure access to data through technology, not just paper files or Google documents.

6. Modernize technology infrastructure to support data tools

Bandwidth and other infrastructure should be updated consistently so that districts and schools can access modern data use tools.

7. Support districts in finding time and resources to use data

States can spread best practices and provide incentives for districts to look for time to act on data. A major barrier to data use is finding time to analyze and act on it.