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PAVING THE PATH TO SUCCESS: New DQC Report Stresses Importance of Using Data to Support Students, Tracks State Progress in Meeting Key Data Goals

In 2009, the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) created “10 State Actions to Ensure Effective Data Use” as a way to encourage states to move from collecting data only for compliance and accountability purposes to using data to support students. At the time, only eight states were budgeting state funds for data systems. Today, that number has grown to forty-one, according to Paving the Path to Success: Data for Action 2014, a new DQC report that tracks state progress on each of the ten action steps.

“More now than ever, states are using data to help answer critical questions, inform continuous improvement, and ultimately support students on their paths to success,” said Aimee Rogstad Guidera, executive director of DQC. “It’s amazing how far we have come, and the investments states have made are beginning to make a difference in the classroom.”

2014 MapWhile only three states—Arkansas, Delaware, and Kentucky—have taken all ten state actions, eighteen states have accomplished at least eight actions, as shown in the map to the right taken from the report. On average, the number of actions achieved by states has increased from 4.7 in 2011 to 7.0 in 2014 and every state has implemented at least four of the ten actions.

Since 2009, the number of states that produce publicly accessible high school feedback reports with information on how a class of high school graduates fares in postsecondary education has grown from twelve to forty-one. The report notes that states are using this data to gauge progress and inform parents, educators, and communities where their students go after graduation and how well they are prepared for college. Only nineteen states currently link K–12 data to workforce data systems.

States are also training their educators better on how to use data appropriately. Currently, eighteen states are implementing policies and practices to ensure that educators know how to access, analyze, and use data to information teaching and learning. In 2009, no states had these activities in place.

The report, along with the accompanying video to the right, outlines how data can be used to personalize a child’s education and improve learning outcomes through the eyes of one teacher, Ms. Bullen, and one of her students, Joey. It begins in the fall, before the school year starts, when Ms. Bullen uses Joey’s past performance to set learning goals based on where he has excelled or fallen behind.

How Do Data Help TeachersWith the broader adoption of student data, privacy concerns have also increased. According to the report, thirty-six states considered 110 bills directly addressing student data. The report offers four recommendations for how state policymakers can protect the privacy, confidentiality, and security of student information. It also provides examples of high-quality public reporting of education data from Connecticut, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin. High-quality public reporting, it notes, is trustworthy and focused on meeting people’s information needs; timely and ongoing; and easy to find, access, and understand.

“Data are more than just test scores, and by effectively accessing and using different types of data—such as attendance, grades, and course-taking—teachers, parents, and school and district leaders can help ensure that every student is on a path for success every day, not just at the end of the school year,” the report notes. “Without access to the right data, pinpointing and addressing the needs of each student or knowing which programs directly benefit students of all abilities is difficult for teachers, principals, and parents.”

Paving the Path to Success: Data for Action 2014 is available at

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