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Highlights: About the Forum | Panel 1 | Panel 2 | Panel 3 | Panel 4 | Closing Session

Panel 3: How can educators and other stakeholders use student performance data to connect families and schools in meaningful ways?

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Transcript of the video: So I think this pivot change which is about from the hammer to the flashlight is really this culture change from compliance mode and simple methods of accountability to richer, more transparent measures of accountability, and accountability to taxpayers, to families, not just to systems and to rules, but also this massive shift to continuous improvement. And for that shift and that culture shift to happen two things need to happen.  And so -- many -– if you’ve heard me before, you know that I’m a daughter of an economist and of a psychiatric social worker.  And so, our dinner conversations revolved around people’s needs.  And so my mom was always talking about Maslow’s Hierarchy and people needing to feel comfortable and needing to work in an environment where there’s trust.  And Bill used that word.  And it is a very important word.  And trust and people knowing the rules and feeling comfortable and knowing that there is change coming, but how do we make people feel that they’re in a safe environment doing that. But my dad’s an economist.  And markets have to clear, Aimee, and there’s supply and there’s demand.  And that’s the other piece of this is that we’ve just increased our supply of data to incredible amounts of information.  We have not increased the demand because we haven’t shown the value of this information yet. And so the two pieces are -– if I’m going to invoke my parents -– is that we need to feel –- help people feel that there is -– that there is a sense of trust, that there aren’t going to be surprise punches, that people aren’t going to play that game of gotcha, that they know the rules, they know that there’s greater transparency, they know what’s coming down, that they know the facts are the facts, and that they’re not going to be hurt by being open and using the information, and having information shared in ways that it hasn’t been shared before. But the other piece of this -– the economist’s side is we also need to show the value of this information so that there’s a demand for it and people want to use it because until we change the focus and meet customer, consumer, stakeholder needs, there’s never going to be a demand for this.  And, therefore, it’s not going to be used.  It’s not going to be high quality, and it doesn’t matter.  So those are the two pieces.	-- Aimee Guidera, Executive Director of the Data Quality Campaign

For too long, education data were used mainly for compliance purposes rather than to promote meaningful continuous improvement. Used in this vein, data did little more than show whether programs or educators were doing what was required of them. Aimee R. Guidera, Executive Director of the Data Quality Campaign, urged educators, parents, advocates, and policy makers to think about data not as a hammer, but as a flashlight.
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When used for continuous improvement, data can help families understand what their student needs in order to strengthen skill areas and address challenges; teachers understand what they need to adjust in their instructional practices or outreach efforts in order to better serve students and families; and policy makers become aware of the impact of various strategies and can identify opportunities to scale up promising practices. Data sharing must be a dynamic process in which the people who receive data have the ability and authority to act on that information.

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Transcript of the video: Two final points:  I think as Aimee said, current patterns of data use in the early childhood community are still heavily compliance oriented.  Most of the information that’s collected is in response to requirements from state and federal agencies to document the performance of programs rather than to create data that can be useful for frontline practice. And finally, I think in contrast to the patterns of data collection and use in public education, there’s a much stronger focus in the early childhood community around documenting and using data on program quality, or program inputs, or the performance of programs in relation to standards for program delivery.  There are initial efforts going on to collect and begin to use child assessment information, but they’re at a much less robust level, and I think there’s much more work needed to be able to equip programs to be able to talk with parents about the progress of their children over time in terms of the important child development school readiness goals. -- Thomas C. Shultz, Project Director for Early Childhood Initiatives at the Council of Chief State School Officers

In order to be used effectively for continuous improvement, data also must be contextualized and translated into action steps. Data are more actionable when they reveal how a child’s growth is progressing rather than simply providing a one-time performance assessment or listing what a program is doing with a child. Thomas C. Shultz, Project Director for Early Childhood Initiatives at the Council of Chief State School Officers, noted that while the K–12 community has begun using data in more meaningful ways to help families understand student performance, the focus on data use within the early childhood community still tends to be on compliance.
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Transcript of the video: So we’re pushing and encouraging our researchers and our evaluators to have these kind of partnerships.  And I wanted to -– to specifically mention that IES’s board is called the National Board for Education Sciences.  A week ago yesterday approved a new set of priorities for IES.  And the priorities specifically talk about wanting this greater relevance and usability through partnerships.  So it’s very clearly laid out and our priorities which are the guiding principles for the agencies that we are encouraging partnerships among researchers and a wide range of stakeholders. And I’m very proud of my board for inserting the term parents into that.  We talk about partnerships between researchers, practitioners, and policy makers and specifically say students, teachers, families, and community members.  So, I mention this because of my belief that –- my strong belief based on experience is this data use is only enabled and is only fruitful when it is in this kind of partnership vein.  It’s not a one-way street. So, we on the technical end who are creating the reports, who are doing the research really need to have the interest of the stakeholder groups at heart as we plan the research. And just let me wrap up.  I think that this is -– there’s a purpose for pushing these kind of relationships and these partnerships because I think the people on the ground who might use the research findings are going to be much more likely to do that if they’ve had some sort of influence, if they’ve had some sort of guidance on how the research was conducted.  And so, I would really put –- call this kind of an umbrella principle for the same sort of thing that we can talk about using data to engage parents in school and student improvement efforts. -- John Q. Easton, Director, Institute for Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education

Shared data have to be actually useful to the people who are most affected by the information being shared. Involving parents and other local, on-the-ground stakeholders in designing data collection and dissemination strategies is critical in creating meaningful partnerships in which everyone has an increased interest and investment in the success of data-sharing initiatives.
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Transcript of the video: Well, the data that we share is not AYP data.  It’s individual student data.  It’s grades.  It’s attendance.  It’s teacher’s grade books.  The data are -– we’re working on a formal policy, but our informal policy is that teachers update the data once per week; and we’re not there yet.	Some of our teachers do it very well, and some don’t see it as a useful tool yet.  So we’ve got to work on that with teachers. So, sorry, remind me –- and so, what do we do with parents or how do we empower parents once they get the data?  So, if it’s middle school and high school, and it’s attendance, we start talking about those issues.  So I always go back to the mom who says I drop my child off every day, and then he goes the other way while I go to work.  And so, it’s making connections with the school that maybe that family didn’t have before. So, here, let’s introduce you to your student’s counselor.  Let’s talk about how maybe she can meet you at the front door and take the student. If it’s -– if it’s struggling in a class academically, we have a program called Smart Thinking dot com which is an online 24-hour, 7 days a week, tutorial with things like algebra where students might be struggling. So we really try to connect parents in those meaningful ways.  Are they struggling in a class?  Let’s help connect you to academic resources because we don’t expect you, as a parent, to try to help with algebra at home.  I wouldn’t try to help my student with algebra at home. If it’s attendance, let’s connect you to the school, and let’s start talking about how we really can help that student attend school better. So, we try to make it very personal, very meaningful, and directed towards where are those issues. -- D’Lisa Crain, Administrator, Department of Family–School Partnerships, Washoe County School District, Nevada

Just as parents and other stakeholders are more likely to be interested in and use data that they had a hand in creating and collecting, parents are also more likely to use data that are personalized to their student’s context, giving parents a meaningful and actionable assessment of their student’s growth and needs. This involves connecting data points to action steps so families can understand how their student’s performance can be affected by how families/parents act on the information they have received.
Watch the video that accompanies the above text.

Highlights: About the Forum | Panel 1 | Panel 2 | Panel 3 | Panel 4 | Closing Session







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This policy forum is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education's Parental Information and Resource Center program. The content of this policy forum does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Education.