Data & Analytics

Report: K-12 Schools Have Failed to Harness Data

K-12 schools in the United States have failed to harness data to improve student performance and close achievement gaps, according to a new report from the Center for Data Innovation.

The report, "Building a Data-Driven Education System in the United States," says that "Though some industries have completely restructured their operations around the new opportunities afforded by data-driven technologies, education has yet to undergo such a transformation to capitalize on the potential of data."

Education has failed to make progress in this area because of administrative, technological, cultural and political barriers, according to the report, including specifically institutional resistance, hostility to using data in classrooms, insufficient teacher training, lack of tools, flawed infrastructure and systemic challenges. Fears around privacy are pervasive but "often unfounded," according to the report, and may thus be the most significant challenge.

The report offers suggestions to help policy makers overcome these challenges, such as:

  • Encourage smarter data collection and management;
  • Encourage interoperability;
  • Empower students and parents by providing access to their data;
  • Promote data-driven decision making;
  • Push back against baseless fears;
  • Develop a data-driven school district to serve as a model; and
  • Use data to promote education equity.

"Just as other sectors increasingly rely on data to make smarter decisions, operate more efficiently and fairly and develop innovative new solutions to problems, education should embrace data, too," according to the report's conclusion. "In fact, given the implications of an effective data-driven education system — a more productive workforce, greater economic opportunity and increased national competitiveness, to name a few — the need for policymakers to take action to address the shortcomings of the education system is pressing."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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