Georgia is a leader in use of student data, advocate says

A new report from a national advocate for data use in the classroom says Georgia is a national leader in collecting useful measures of each student's performance and putting the information into teachers' hands.

Georgia "has transformed teaching and learning because for the first time teachers have data at their fingertips," said Aimee Rogstad Guidera, president and CEO of the Data Quality Campaign.

Until now, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit has focused on monitoring states' success in implementing so-called "longitudinal data

systems" in collaboration with the federal government. Georgia finished its system and began training teachers a couple of years ago.

With the infrastructure in place, DQC will now focus on measuring how vigorously teachers in each state use the information.

Advocates of data use say detailed historical information about the strengths and weaknesses of each child can help teachers tailor their delivery.

Some critics say teachers are too overwhelmed to effectively use the information. Others say Georgia provides too little information -- mostly just performance on the mandatory state tests -- and releases it to teachers too late to make a difference, since the tests come at the end of the school year. Still others worry about the security and privacy of the information. Privacy advocates tried, and failed, to amend Georgia law this year.

Even so, the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, encourages data collection and analysis and public reporting of the information, especially when it comes to the performance of minority groups. The Act mentions "data" over a hundred times.

DQC says the data systems will be useless if teachers and parents don't buy into them. So the group will be pushing states to carefully choose what they measure, to train teachers to use it, to be clear with the public about what is being measured and why and to guarantee parent access and data privacy.

Building the state data systems was the easy part, Guidera said. Next, comes the real work: "changing people's hearts, minds and actions."

Check out the report here.

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About the Author

Ty Tagami
Ty Tagami
Ty Tagami writes about K-12 education in Georgia. He has covered government, politics, crime and schools for the AJC since 2002.