5 promising K-12 data strategies emerged in 2020

Education data legislation increasingly focuses on student experiences outside of K–12 instruction
By: | November 11, 2020
(GettyImages/Fly View Productions)

Despite the disruptions of COVID, many states in 2020 have passed new bipartisan measures and proposed other bills to provide students and families with education data.

Some 242 bills were sponsored and 43 new laws were passed, covering attendance and enrollment, assessments and online learning, according to the Data Quality Campaign’s 2020 Education Data Legislation Review.

More than half of 2020’s bills called for new data collections or changes to existing reports on a range of education issues, the report said.

Many of this year’s bills also focused on student experiences outside of K–12 instruction, including student well-being, early learning, postsecondary outcomes, workforce development and school finance.

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A number of bills also covered data sharing across state agencies, safeguarding student data, and transparency in areas such as discipline and college and career outcomes. Some 14% of the bills covered pandemic response.

The report highlighted promising strategies in this year’s legislation:

  • Breaking down silos: 28 of this year’s education data bills would require linking or sharing data across state agencies.
  • Providing meaningful transparency: 60 of the bills promoted data transparency in areas such as college and career pathways data, discipline data and financial data.
  • Supporting local data tools: A handful of bills aimed to provide the adults closest to students with the tools to gather data to support student learning, especially for specific groups of students.
  • Safeguarding data in the digital age: 43 bills focused on security—5 of them became law. 5 states considered bills that would account for postsecondary student data privacy.
  • Supporting underserved students: Some bills would ensure that adults, including those outside the classroom, have access to the right information at the right time. These bills focused on traditionally underserved students, such as students in foster care.

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