Education Data


As states work on implementing large scale education reforms like new standards, new teacher preparation programs and evaluations, and new student assessment systems, the role that data plays in education policy has become increasingly significant. "Education data" refers to information that can be used by legislators, staff, school leadership, teachers and parents to help inform decisions and measure successes. This data includes information such as test scores, student attendance rates, graduation rates, teacher outcomes and college and career readiness. States may choose to input this type of data into a state longitudinal data system so that student, teacher, and school achievement can be tracked over time to determine growth and opportunities.

Below are a series of important questions to ask when utilizing education data in your state, as well as policy options to consider and resources. 

Questions for Legislators to Ask About Education Data

As legislators consider the way to integrate education data into tier depiction making and policies, the following questions may be useful to answer to better understand education data in the state

  • Does your state have a longitudinal data system? Do you know how it is used? What are legislative expectations? Do the system and its implementation meet those expectations? How does the legislature use that data to formulate policy?
  • Does your state match student and teacher data?
  • How does your state rank in the Data Quality Campaign Essential Elements and the State Actions? What policies are missing in your state?
  • How does your state ensure data accuracy?
  • Are your state department of education assessment and data experts confident that your state data system will be able to meet your needs as states make the transition to new standards and assessments?
  • Does your state use a value-added or growth model to interpret and relay information about student growth and educator effectiveness? How reliable are the resulting estimates of projected growth and/or educator effectiveness?
  • Is the value-added or student-growth measure itself based on all the student’s previous performance data on an assessment instrument? Is it sophisticated and robust enough to include students with missing data?
  • Is your model sophisticated enough to accommodate student/teacher mobility or shared instructional practices?
  • Does your state use other measures to interpret and relay information about student growth and educator effectiveness?
  • How do your state and districts interpret and relay data to principals and teachers about student achievement? How are your principals and teachers trained to interpret this data and make staffing and instructional decisions based upon it?
  • How does your state ensure student and educator privacy in terms of data access?

State Policy Options Related to Education Data

The following policy options are among those states are considering for using education data.

  • Implement and fund a longitudinal data system that contains all the elements recommended by the Data Quality Campaign. 
  • Ensure that your data system can meet your policy needs. 
  • Take the state actions advised by the Data Quality Campaign to ensure that your data system is appropriately and best used to meet your policy needs.
  • Require teachers and principals to be trained in the use of data to adjust instructional practice and inform curricular decisions.
  • After meeting with your state data experts, make any necessary adjustments to your state policy if your system will not produce reliable data on school, teacher and student performance. 
  • Enact policies to ensure that your state data system is capable of meeting state needs as your state makes the transition to new standards and assessments.
  • Ensure that student and educator privacy is protected.

Additional Resources

NCSL Resources

Other Resources