Using Data to Improve Schools from the Ground Up

What's New

The world generates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, and more than ninety percent of the world’s data was reportedly produced in the past five years alone. While only contributing a small fraction to the quintillions of daily data points, the nearly 100,000 public elementary and secondary schools across the United States “generate reams of data.” However, much of that data remains untapped, and states across the country are taking measures to improve educators' capacity to use and analyze data effectively. Forty-nine states committed to providing better training and support in utilizing data for districts and schools as part of their approved Every Student Succeeds Act plans, while 38 states committed to investing in data tools designed to make monitoring and analyzing data easier for educators on the ground. States like Washington are also building state education agency partnerships to ensure data informs policymaking, while research-practice partnerships designed to make educational attainment data more accessible and actionable continue to proliferate. Chicago provides a particularly valuable case study in how data can contribute to driving large-scale, equitable improvements in students’ outcomes. The University of Chicago has partnered with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district for nearly 30 years and recently brought some important learning about data use to the fore in a new report, Practice-Driven Data: Lessons from Chicago’s Approach to Research, Data, and Practice in Education.

Why It Matters

Data is becoming more accessible to educators, policymakers, and families and has helped drive significant improvement in school and student outcomes. However, educators and education stakeholders don’t yet feel equipped to fully leverage the data now at their disposal. Recent studies from the Data Quality Campaign found that 57 percent of teachers reported they don’t have time during the school day to review data and 67 percent said they were not satisfied with the data tools available to them. Only 36 percent of parents thought they had easy access to the information necessary to help their child get a good education. Evidence suggests data on what research shows matters most for students’ success coupled with professional learning designed to build educators' capacity to translate data into improvement strategies, has the potential to power significant progress in students’ educational attainment.