Data Quality Campaign's (DQC) seventh annual state analysis says that while states are making strong progress with their capacity to build and maintain data system, they're not adequately helping educators, parents and other education stakeholders.
"States have worked so diligently to build their capacity to collect and use quality education data, but we will see improved student achievement only when all stakeholders—from parents to policymakers—actually use these data to make informed decisions," said Aimee Guidera, executive director of the Data Quality Campaign.
The DQC's Data for Action 2011 affirms that education stakeholders such as parents and teachers, could use the data to inform decisions to improve student achievement.
"The need is urgent: state policymakers are right now in the process of allocating scarce resources based on what works to help students, and they cannot do that well without data."
From 2005, 36 states have taken up all of DQC's 10 Essential Elements of Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, and 49 states along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have implemented eight or more of them.
The DQC can claim that this shows that, in some way, every state in the country has robust longitudinal data extending beyond test scores that could inform today's toughest education decisions.
However, as yet, no state has fully embraced all of the 10 State Actions to Ensure Effective Data Use, whereby stakeholders are able to use the data that states now collect.
As it stands, 41 states are not linking K-12 and workforce data, while 38 states are not linking postsecondary and workforce data. This means that they cannot inform conversations about preparing people for jobs.
38 states are yet to establish policies about sharing data across agencies and 46 states do not currently share teacher performance data with teacher preparation programs.
However, the campaign is keen to express that some states are proving that these challenges can be addressed.
Arkansas has 9 of 10 State Actions providing cutting-edge, real-time data access and reporting, while Texas connects K–12 and workforce data to provide feedback information on the employment of their graduates and non-graduates.
Maryland ensures transparency and accountability while developing a system to answer the state's critical policy questions through a P–20 governance body and North Carolina shares teacher performance data with the state's teacher preparation programs and utilizes the approval system to require data literacy training in pre-service programs.