What Is Student Data?
What is student data? You may not think
of empowerment when you think of data, but when used effectively, data can give
you the full picture needed to support the incredibly important education goals
of parents, students, educators, and policymakers. That said, there’s a lot
that must happen before data can be meaningful and useful to everyone.
Student data are collected from many sources and in many formats, although the
type of data and who can access them, is different at each point. But what do we
mean by student data? First there’s academic information: student growth,
courses, grades, enrollment, completion, and graduation. Then demographics: students’
age, race, gender, economic status, and special education needs. There is testing:
results of teacher design tests and quizzes, and annual and benchmark
assessments. As well as student actions: attendance, behavior, extracurricular
activities, and program participation. Plus data generated by teachers:
observation and engagement of students in the classroom. And finally data
generated by students: homework and learning data from apps and online tools.
To get that full, clear picture, important requirements must be met for information
to be truly useful and to empower people. Data must be there when you need it,
provide a whole picture of student learning, and be relevant to your needs.
Data has to be safeguarded, trustworthy, and kept private. Educators and policy
makers need to have the knowledge and skills to use data effectively. Data
should be used to communicate with families and communities about how
students and schools are doing. And data must also be used to help leaders and
educators support and improve learning. The right data, in the right format, used
the right way, empower students like Joey, supportive parents, dedicated educators
like Miss Bullen, and visionary policymakers, with the information they
need to make decisions and take actions that lead
achievement. It boils down to this: student success depends on empowered
policymakers to allocate resources, and craft important laws. Student success
depends on empowered teachers to design effective instruction in individualized
lessons. Student success depends on empowered parents who support their kids’
academic growth at home. And student success depends on students themselves,
empowered with information to manage their own progress. Every student’s
success depends on all of this coming together, and that’s the real power of
data. When students, parents, educators, and policymakers, have the right information
to guide their decisions, students achieve their best, which empowers
everyone, and that is student data.