Putting Education Reform To The Test

Florida Among the Leaders in Improving Education Data

A survey that tracks the way states use data to improve the quality of education finds progress across the board. The data could be anything from individual standardized test scores to the performance of whole school districts.

The Data Quality Campaign is in its seventh year. More than fifty organizations around the country are now part of the effort to get state leaders focused on improving the use of education data. The idea is to quickly and easily get mounds of information to as many people as possible. The hope is that easily accessible data will lead to more informed decision-making by teachers, students, parents, and even lawmakers. Ultimately, the campaign sees better student outcomes as a result.

The campaign offers “10 Essential Elements of Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems” and “10 State Actions to Ensure Effective Data Use” as guides for state leaders. It measures how the states are doing in “Data for Action 2011.”

Florida was the first in the nation to implement all ten essential elements. 36 states have tackled all of those elements since 2005. In the other guide, Florida has reached 8 of the 10 state actions – no state has reached all 10 – putting it above the national average.

Elizabeth Laird, Director of Communications for the Data Quality Campaign, says, “Florida is one of only three states to have Action 9 (promote educator professional development and credentialing), which means the state has taken important steps around teacher effectiveness.” She says, “Florida has a quality teacher of record definition and a teacher student data link which are both key for teacher effectiveness as they allow the state to accurately link teachers with the students to whom they provided instruction. Finally, Florida produces a high school feedback report that requires the state to link K-12 and postsecondary data, and it allows high schools to see how their graduates did once they moved on to college.”

Since one standardized test score doesn’t make up a student’s whole story, a compilation of data that’s shared with families and other agencies could reasonably help with educational decisions. The campaign plans to continue working toward data accessibility that can steer students into the right coursework and the best post secondary education.

The report concludes: “All states can realize the vision of effective data use in education, but the question looms: Will they? States have undoubtedly made tremendous progress, but the hardest work remains. The stakes have never been higher as policymakers and educators are asked to deliver all students a world-class education with fewer resources. The education sector will never reach this goal without effective data use and the political leadership to get us there.”


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