Students lack important data about themselves. Here’s what they want

Less than half of high school students received information about whether they’re on track to graduate, a survey says.

Student data plays a critical role when high schoolers make college and career decisions as they approach graduation. But many students say they don’t actually have sufficient access to their own learning data, a new poll says.

Students said that this data—such as whether they’re meeting grade-level expectations—is also essential for staying on track after the disruptions of the pandemic, according to the survey by the Data Quality Campaign and the Kentucky Student Voice Team. “Their message came through loud and clear: students want access and support to use their own data to navigate their futures,” the report says.

Less than half of the students reported receiving information about meeting grade-level expectations and whether they’re on track to graduate or how much academic progress they’ve made, the survey found. And while three-quarters of students believe they are on track for college or career success, far fewer feel like they have a complete understanding of their post-high school options.

Here are the types of information students want most, starting with what they said was most important:

  1. Which high school courses I need to take to be ready for what I want to do after high school
  2. Which pathways I can take from school to the workforce to earn a livable wage
  3. What financial aid—including scholarships and grants—is available to fund my postsecondary education
  4. Which postsecondary institutions or programs do other students from my high school go to
  5. Do students from my school who go directly into the workforce find a job that pays a livable wage
  6. Whether students from my school who enroll in college are prepared for college-level courses
  7. How many students from my high school enroll in college, enlist in the military or go directly into the workforce

Student data deficits

A majority of students—about six in 10—say they trust their parents and teachers to help them use academic data to make post-graduation plans. But when it comes to non-academic data, students have the most faith in their parents by a wide margin. Still, a substantial number of students also want more access to counselors to help map out their futures.

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Students are also interested in accessing disaggregated data about their schools and classmates, such as graduation and college-success rates based on ethnicity, race and gender. “Without access to data about their own progress, students are being left in the dark,” the study concludes. State, district, and local education leaders must prioritize giving students access to data and ensuring that they have the resources to use it.”

Students may not be that far off in some of their assessments. School-level data on participation and performance in CTE and career pathways is severely limited, according to an analysis by, an organization that provides data to help parents choose schools. Schools are also not regularly reporting metrics such as the number of industry credentials earned or disaggregating CTE data by race and ethnicity.

“To fulfill the promise of high-quality career preparation programming, states must undertake greater data collection, publication, and transparency efforts at the school level,” the report says. “These data are critical components of evaluating the quality and equitable access to CTE and career pathways programs.”

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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