Arkansas Leading Country In Using Data In Schools

by Steve Brawner ([email protected]) 139 views 

Arkansas is one of two states leading the nation in using data effectively to improve education, according to a report issued Tuesday by a group that advocates for such practices.

The Data Quality Campaign says in its new report, Data for Action 2013: Right Questions, Right Data, Right Answers, that Arkansas and Delaware are the only states that have taken the 10 steps it says are needed to ensure effective and secure data use that protects privacy. This is the first time since the campaign first began writing reports in 2005 that a state has taken all 10 steps.

“In some ways this is no surprise to us at the Data Quality Campaign because, since the beginning of the campaign where we launched in 2005, both Delaware and Arkansas have just been incredible bellwether states,” said Executive Director Aimee Guidera in a conference call Monday.

Arkansas, like 41 other states, provides high school feedback reports to the public. Like 34 other states, it gives teachers access to data about their students, such as multiple years’ worth of attendance and course-taking histories.

However, in other areas Arkansas is part of a smaller minority. It is one of 19 states that uses securely linked data to analyze how students perform once they enter the workforce, and it’s one of 17 states that share information about teacher performance with educator preparation programs. While 44 states link K-12 and post-secondary data systems so policymakers can track how states perform in college, only 19 states link K-12 and workforce data so policymakers can track students‘ performance in the labor market. Arkansas is one of 14 states where parents have easy access to their own children’s longitudinal data, the report said.

The report cited the Arkansas Department of Education’s Data Center, which provides resources for educators, policymakers, teachers and parents at this link.

The reports were produced by surveying governors’ offices and collecting documentation from those offices. States responded this past summer. California was the only state that did not respond. The campaign conducted its first survey in 2005.

The Data Quality Campaign also asked independent experts to determine criteria for how well states were implementing certain data use practices. Based on those criteria, Arkansas was rated as among the highest performing states in providing teachers access to student longitudinal data – data that follows them throughout their educational careers. It also was a top performer in developing educator skills in using data, linking K-12 and post-secondary schools, and providing information to the public about high school performance levels.

Guidera said that states are doing a better job of actually using the data rather than simply collecting it. “We’re now seeing this promise of personalized learning becoming a reality,” she said.