Oct 03 2017
Data Analytics

States Can Use Data Analytics to Improve K–12 Teacher Training

By revamping the data evaluation of teacher training programs, state education agencies can ensure their students are getting the best education.

In today’s classroom, there is a lot of pressure on educators to be prepared to teach students how to thrive in a tech-laden world.

Many teachers lack the credentials needed to educate students on topics that require a lot of tech use, simply because the tech didn’t exist when they were trained. Some schools have turned to micro-credentialing as a way to give educators valuable professional development on these 21st-century skills.

However, these small one-off courses do little to shape how today’s educators are prepared for the classroom overall. That’s where data comes in.

In a new brief called “Using Data to Ensure That Teachers Are Learner Ready on Day One,” the Data Quality Campaign urges state leaders to incorporate components of data analytics into teacher training programs at colleges statewide.

“Teacher quality is widely cited as the most important in-school factor affecting student achievement, but as the realities of K–12 classrooms continuously change, new teachers can feel underprepared to meet the diverse needs of their students,” reads the brief.

“Essential to improving pipeline quality is ensuring that the right data is available to inform the policy and practice changes needed to continuously improve EPP [educator preparation program] quality, teacher effectiveness, and ultimately student learning.”

Removing Silos Is Essential for Data Collection

DQC reports that data is not yet available between states and teaching programs at universities because they are operating in silos. While state education agencies collect information like teacher licenses, where they teach and how much they improve student learning, that information isn’t shared with training programs.

The brief reports that as of 2014, only half of states were reporting feedback to teaching programs, even though they had information about graduates.

“Without this information, EPPs are left to assess program quality on their own without knowing whether the program adjustments they make ultimately drive positive change in K–12 student outcomes,” reports DQC.

The first step to using data to better prepare teachers is simply opening the information flow between states and programs.

Collect and Share High-Quality, Useful Data

When leveraged correctly, data in the education sector has the power to boost graduation and retention rates at the university level, decrease attendance issues at the K–12 level, and power up adaptive learning tools for both.

Once states and teacher training programs are sharing high-quality data, DQC reports that continuous improvement in educator preparation will start to occur. States should rethink the type of data they need for evaluation and consider conducting a statewide survey of teachers, asking about professional development, job satisfaction and feeling of preparation.

DQC recommends that schools establish a teacher-student data link and share the outcomes with the prep programs. According to DQC’s roadmap, to create a high-quality link leaders should focus on these six things:

  1. Data linkages
  2. Teacher of record definition
  3. Roster verification
  4. K–12 course scheduling and codes
  5. Governance
  6. Teacher ID number

DQC suggests that states and teacher prep programs also need to create a feedback loop, where programs receive information on their graduates and then inform the state of what they plan to do with that information.

“EPPs can design programs of study that truly reflect K–12 classroom realities, state policymakers can ensure that EPPs are meeting K–12 human capital needs, and the public can be confident that programs are producing high-quality teachers,” reads the brief.

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