We Have the Data, Now We Need To Personalize Learning

Schools have been collecting student data through standardized tests and other means for years, but teachers, parents and other stakeholders in students' development often don't have the opportunity to use that data to help meet individual students' needs, according to a new report from the Data Quality Campaign (DQC).

The report, "Time to Act: Making Data Work for All Students," strives to help transform data into a tool for change in students' education. With this report, the DQC challenges policymakers to shed the old model of education as a one-size-fits-all system to one that meets the needs of each student as an individual.

"Because we now have the data that allows us to look at individual achievements, what individual kids are struggling with, what they need, we can now personalize learning for every single child, and we can make sure that the adults closest to students — the parents, the teachers, the mentors — have the information they need to collaborate, to improve and to innovate," said Aimee Guidera, president and CEO of DQC, in a media conference call.

Every state in the country now has a longitudinal data system, and with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act in December 2015, every state now has the opportunity to change the culture around data use, according to Guidera. "When students, parents, educators and partners have the right information at the right time and in the right format to help them make the decisions for that child, students excel," she said.

The report outlines four recommendations for policymakers "who want to transform data from a tool for compliance to one that fuels continuous improvement and achievement of results."

Four policy priorities recommended in the report:

  • Measuring what matters by being clear about what students must achieve and having the data to ensure all students are on track to succeed;
  • Making data use possible by providing teachers and leaders with the flexibility, training and support they need to effectively and quickly use data to support student outcomes;
  • Being transparent and earning trust by ensuring every community understands how its schools and students are doing and how data is valuable, protected and used; and
  • Guaranteeing access and protecting policy by providing teacher and parents with timely information on their students and making sure it's kept safe.

In addition to the recommended policy priorities, the report identifies five guiding principles that are necessary for the policy priorities to be effective and provides examples of states that have already implemented each of the four policy priorities.

The full policy brief is available from the Data Quality Campaign's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].