Action Needed to Improve Educator Data Literacy States urged to make data easier for teachers to access and promote development of stronger skills

WASHINGTON-February 4, 2014-States should promote data use skills, ease of access to
data, and the use of a common language about data literacy to support strengthening
data literacy among the nation’s educators as an important lever for improving
student achievement, according to a new policy brief, Data Literacy: It’s About
Time.

Released today, the policy brief looks at current state efforts through educator
licensure and teacher preparation training programs, as well as other policies to
promote data literacy – or the skills needed to effectively use data to improve
instruction – analyzes research on teacher data use, and provides a framework for
teacher data use policy.
The paper is the result of more than a yearlong collaborative effort to define data
literacy and set priorities for state and federal policy action among two dozen of
the nation’s education organizations, including the Council of Chief State School
Officers, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the National
Council on Teacher Quality, the National Education Association, the Education Trust,
the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the National Association of
State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification and WestEd. The Oregon and
Rhode Island education departments also participated.
Over the past decade, teachers have been asked to do more – better serve kids, help
turn around schools, close achievement gaps – but policies have not yet supported
the skills needed to use data effectively as a strategy to meet these lofty, but
critical, goals.

«Good teaching does not happen by accident – it is the result of proper training,
pedagogical knowledge, skills, and lifelong professional learning. Teachers can
better improve their practice and student outcomes when they also have an
understanding of data’s purposes, value, and uses for improving instruction,» said
Aimee Rogstad Guidera, executive director of the Data Quality Campaign. «We hope
these recommendations inspire states to take action to ensure our educators are
provided secure, easy access to quality data and ongoing training and support on how
to best use this data to improve student achievement.»

The brief defines data literacy for teachers as: Data literate educators
continuously, effectively, and ethically access, interpret, act on, and communicate
multiple types of data from state, local, classroom, and other sources in order to
improve outcomes for students in a manner appropriate to their professional roles
and responsibilities.
«We are pleased to be part of the evolving conversation about how educators can
access and use data in meaningful ways,» said Sharon P. Robinson, Ed.D., president
and CEO of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. «Teacher
preparation programs are working hard to ensure that candidates can produce and use
data effectively in the classroom to realize positive student outcomes. This white
paper provides a common language for all education stakeholders about data literacy.
Clearly our candidates must use skills as competent assessment and data users to
make important decisions about practice that benefit the achievement goals of the
system and individual students.»

«Effective data use is a critical part of quality teaching, but teachers must have
the skills they need to use data to enhance and improve their practice,» added Kate
Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality. «Without state policy
to support teacher data literacy, states, districts, schools, and most importantly
students will not have the opportunity to reap the benefits of teachers who are able
to use data to inform instruction.»

The brief provides the following recommendations for state policymakers to support
the development of data literate educators:
Promote Data Use Skills

* Embed the definition of data literacy into teacher policies and
guidelines, including program approval, licensure, professional development, and
others as relevant.

* Use licensure exams and performance assessments to measure whether
teachers have needed data literacy skills before entering the classroom. Once states
have set the standards of data literacy for a licensed teacher, it will also be
critical to measure whether teachers are prepared with those skills before entering
the classroom.

* Promote, support, and incentivize quality, ongoing professional
development focused on data use to improve instruction, and based on the definition
of data literacy. Learning does not stop in college, and as data use best practices
and tools change over time, it is critical that teachers receive ongoing training.

* Incorporate evidence of teacher data literacy skills into performance
evaluations. By providing educators the opportunity to receive feedback on their
data use practices, and how to improve, they are best able to build on pre-service
and in-service training and continually improve practice.
Promote Ease of Access

* Provide teachers with actionable, easy to access data. Paper files and
Google documents are not enough – nor sufficiently secure – to provide quality
access to data. States have a critical role in supplying educators with
technology-based, secure, longitudinal data.

* Ensure that districts and schools have the needed technical infrastructure
for easy data use. States have and will need to continue to ensure that districts
have needed bandwidth and up-to-date technology necessary for modern data use tools.

* Promote, support, and incentivize districts and schools to use time and
resources in new ways that foster data use. Among the greatest barriers to educator
data use is time in day to make use of the information. States can share best
practices and support districts in seeking new solutions for data use, including
options like changing schedules to allow for data-driven professional learning
communities, and using human capital in new ways.
Additionally, federal policymakers can support states in promoting a data literate
teacher workforce by promoting, supporting, and incentivizing data literacy through
laws, grants, or guidance that provide parameters or resources for educator quality,
and/or teaching and learning.

For more information on the Data Quality Campaign, and to read the full policy
brief, please visit our website at
http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/.

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