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7 data-sharing resources for schools

New resource aims to create a roadmap for complex data partnerships

data-DQCEducators now have access to a playbook created as an effort to help school districts develop data-driven initiatives for student support and achievement.

“Data Drives School-Community Collaboration: Seven Principles for Effective Data Sharing,” a collaboration between the Data Quality Campaign and StriveTogether, also focuses on putting complex data partnerships in place.

“Effective data sharing between schools and communities is crucial to improve decision making at all levels and address the underlying challenges facing children,” said Chris Kingsley, associate director of local policy and advocacy at the Data Quality Campaign.

Kingsley added: “Schools and their partners have access to more data than ever. This resource can help schools and communities put that data to work to serve the whole child, in and out of the classroom, and empower communities to be full partners in the educational mission of their schools.”

Next page: The 7 data-sharing principles

The seven key data-sharing principles are:

1. Pave the way with leaders and decision makers

Top-level decision makers in the community should be aware of sharing data across systems, as these individuals can buy in and consequently lead to long-term sustainability. It is crucial to involve the decision makers in data use that will aid them in recognizing service gaps, supplying evidence for budget and grant requests, and advising constant initiatives for improvement.

2. Know your information ecosystem

Whether a school, nonprofit, or public agency, it has likely already has implemented numerous information systems, data collection mandates, and reporting requirements collectively an “information ecosystem.”

Ultimately, the goal should be to gain a detailed understanding of what is already in place, involve the appropriate people, and decide collectively on how to strengthen, integrate, and extend the current system.

3. Only gather information if it leads to action

An organization can work purposefully with various stakeholders in order to recognize where information needs to flow, as well as how often and in what form, in order to cultivate the data system a community actually needs.

4. Build responsible data use and protection into your organizational DNA

It is essential to put the student in the center, distinguish which data is necessary, and figure out how to use it in a matter that both serves students and continuously protects their data privacy and security.

5. Identify your trusted local data hub(s)

Find a one-stop shop or a “Data Switzerland” that operates as a data bank or center. Communities should be able to trust these banks as unbiased places where districts and public agencies can share, compare, and analyze sensitive information.

6. Don’t blame it on FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which establishes student rights by explicitly identifying whom can access personally identifiable student information under which circumstances, is typically not the only safeguard for protecting student data. States can take additional precautions.

FERPA permits the sharing of relevant records between schools and authorized partners both within the district and outside of it. Implementing clear student privacy standards and identifying specific ways schools and communities can work more intimately together can lead to strong data sharing relationships.

7. Invest in the people who will lead the work

Identifying and investing in the right people across numerous stakeholder organizations can more effectively build a data system designed for multiple community partners that connects student level data from a number sources.

The Data Quality Campaign is national advocacy organization dedicated to “empowering educators, students, parents, and policymakers with the information they need to make the best decisions to improve student outcomes.”

StriveTogether collaborates with communities across the country to “create a civic infrastructure that unites stakeholders around shared goals, measures and results in education.”

For a more detailed look on the seven principles, read the playbook online here.

Rebecca Lundberg is an editorial intern with eSchool Media.

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