Data Dreams Can Come True



By 12/17/2009

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States applying for Race to the Top grants receive points for building statewide longitudinal data systems and using that data to improve instruction. But how might that achievement data be used, and what other data could supplement it?

Chester Finn’s “what next?” column in the most recent issue of Ed Next imagines the ways that education data might be used in 2025.

Among his ideas:

  • Student assessments (formative, summative, informal) are completed electronically, many through adaptive online programs. Software automatically analyzes the resulting information to create a data dashboard for each pupil, showing what has been mastered and what still needs work.
  • An artificial intelligence program periodically “sifts” each student’s cumulating education record to answer such key directional questions as whether the student is on track for college when she completes high school. Pupil achievement consultants review students’ data files and advise teachers on working with challenging students.
  • Linked teacher and student databases are used to formulate professional development activities for each teacher. Classroom sessions are periodically recorded and viewed by online mentors who offer quick feedback to new or struggling teachers.

Even more ideas for using data to improve education can be found in the book chapter from which this article is drawn. That chapter, “Education Data in 2025,” was part of a Fordham Institute book, A Byte at the Apple: Rethinking Education Data for the Post-NCLB Era.

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