Education News

Want To Be A Teacher? Better Get Data Savvy, According To New Report

We've heard the phrase "Big Data." It usually describes how businesses, scientists and governments spot trends and make decisions. That's also happening in schools.


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Courtesy of Data Quality Campaign


Teachers gather a lot of information about their students. And it’s not just their test scores.

“It’s their observation, it’s the little exit-ticket quizzes that they give to their children. It’s the homework.”

That’s Brennan Parton with the Data Quality Campaign. It’s a think-tank in Washington, D.C., that promotes better use of data in education.

Parton says teachers may not even realize all the data they have.

“It’s the class discussion. It’s, ‘You know what, I noticed Lauren missed 10 days of school in the past two months and that’s really a problem.’”

But Parton says teachers don’t always have easy access to data about their students.

And even if they did, they might not know how to make sense of it or how to use it in the classroom.

“Professional development hasn’t quite gone far. A lot of times professional development is literally, ‘How do you log into the system?’ And teachers need –they need some basic data 101 stuff. They absolutely do.”

Teachers should get trained in data before they even start teaching. That’s one of the new recommendations in a new report from the Data Quality Campaign.

Nineteen states already require new instructors to demonstrate basic data skills to get their teaching certificate.

Here in Texas, it’s not an official requirement.

But at the University of Houston’s College of Education, aspiring teachers do work with real data sets.

Melissa Pierson is the associate dean at the college.

“They look at sorting those data, they look at different aggregating, disaggregating for different student groups. They really try to become aware of how to use it in their teaching.”

Pierson says her students work with data again when they go into classrooms to practice teaching.

“It’s a required part now of the profession. I think the more sophisticated that teachers are able to become in their understanding of the data puts teachers more in the driver’s seat, so that they’re virtually the case managers of their children’s learning.”

This push for data-savvy skills isn’t just for new teachers.

The Data Quality Campaign says all teachers should be evaluated on how well they use data in the classroom.

The campaign worked with other groups to create these recommendations, including a teachers union, teacher colleges and the Gates Foundation.

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