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Teachers struggle to find time to use data, study says

Parents and teachers agree that data is important to supporting learning and social emotional development

Most teachers rely on data to personalize learning and understand student performance–and parents overwhelmingly support its use, according to a poll from the Data Quality Campaign.

The poll, which is DQC’s third parent poll and first teacher poll, finds that 95 percent of teachers use academic and nonacademic data, such as attendance and classroom behavior, to understand student performance. Eighty-nine percent say they depend on data to help them personalize learning for students’ unique needs.

More than 8 in 10 teachers say they value the different ways data can help them become more effective teachers, such as using it to identify learning goals, knowing what concepts students learn, and planning and enhancing instruction reflective of the results.

Though “data” is an often misunderstood word that can send parents into a frenzy over privacy concerns, more parents know how essential it is–93 percent of parents in the poll say they value data and realize they need it to understand their child’s academic progress and support learning.

Parents–especially younger parents–also want more information around their child’s social and emotional learning to ensure they’re developing skills such as empathy and collaboration.

Social and emotional learning is increasingly important with teachers, too–96 percent teachers say they value data on students’ social emotional learning as an important measure of their development and growth.

Eighty-six percent of teachers say their colleagues are somewhat or very open to using data to inform teaching.

Teachers say they use data in a number of ways:

  • To communicate with parents about a child’s progress in school (74 percent)
  • To reflect on and improve teaching practice (67 percent)
  • To communicate with students about their strengths and learning needs (62 percent)
  • To collaborate with teachers to support student learning (61 percent)
  • To identify students who are ready for more advanced coursework (55 percent)

“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,” says Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger, president and CEO of the Data Quality Campaign (DQC). “States can and should continue their efforts to create a culture of data use that puts students at the center.”

While the desire for more data is clear, teachers say time is their biggest obstacle, and it prevents them from using it to support student learning–57 percent say there isn’t enough time during the school day to access and use it.

Thirty-four percent of teachers say they feel there is too much data for them to use it effectively, and 26 percent say it is not accessible in a timely manner.

State report cards are good tools to reference to see if states are meeting performance goals, but more than 42 percent of polled parents say they have not looked at a school or district report card in the past year. Of those parents, 40 percent were unaware these report cards exist.

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Laura Ascione

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