Ed Tech Trends

Parents and Teachers Agree on Value of Data Use for Education

While a big majority of parents (95 percent) supported teachers' use of data to make sure their children are getting "all the support and enrichment they need," fewer (71 percent) agreed that they know what information the school is collecting about their kids or how it's being used. On the educator side, while most teachers found that data helps them identify learning goals (87 percent), slightly more than half (52 percent) said their biggest obstacle was a lack the time to use data effectively. These results came from a pair of surveys undertaken on behalf of the Data Quality Campaign by Harris Poll.

The polling company surveyed 914 parents of children ages 5 to 17, most of whom attend school. Around the same time (May 2018) Harris also surveyed 762 full-time teachers, all employed in teaching grades K-12. This is the third time DQC has polled parents and the first time it has queried teachers about topics related to data usage in schools. DQC is a non-profit that advocates for the informed and secure use of data to raise education outcomes.

On the parent side, nine in 10 (94 percent) wanted teachers to use data, including grades, attendance and test scores, to help personalize their children's learning experience. Parents also have more trust in schools to keep the data private and secure; that's grown from 81 percent in 2015 to 87 percent in 2018.

Also, 90 percent of parents found school performance report card results at least somewhat influential in their school-related decision-making. However, while states are required to release school district report cards, including information related to quality and performance, that include such information as student attendance, test scores and teacher qualifications, the resource doesn't appeal to everybody. The survey found that two in five parents (42 percent) haven't reviewed such a report card in the past year; and among those, two in five weren't aware that such reports existed.

Nearly all parents (91 percent) were at least somewhat interested in getting information about their children's social emotional learning. Younger parents, especially, showed more enthusiasm; 73 percent of those between ages 18 and 34 were "very interested," compared to 50 percent for parents 35 or older.

Like parents, teachers told pollsters they valued data use; 95 percent use a combination of academic and nonacademic data, such as attendance and classroom behavior, to understand performance; and 89 percent use data to help personalize learning for each student. Also, 81 percent said their school leaders encourage the use of data as a tool for teaching. Yet 57 percent reported that they don't have time during the school day to access and use data.

"Data is a key conversation starter for parents and teachers to collaborate and reinforce each other's work to support students, but this can only happen if we ensure they have the time and support they need to use it effectively," said Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger, president and CEO of DQC, in a statement. "States can and should continue their efforts to create a culture of data use that puts students at the center."

These results and others are reported in a series of infographics available on the DQC website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.