The Appropriate Use of Data to Drive Student Success
I believe that we must honor every student’s individual abilities, the way they learn—and their privacy. Protecting student data has become a growing topic of discussion, and the enactment of the nation’s first student data-privacy legislation on September 29th in California of the Student Online Personal Information Protection Act (SOPIPA) has generated even more interest. It’s important that the ongoing dialogue we have around student data is a balanced one. Research has shown that the use of academic data is one of the most powerful tools we have to maximize student potential, and we must be dedicated to leveraging it to enable progress for learners at every level—while safeguarding the individual students’ information.
Analytics as a driver of learning transformation
A recent article by Anya Kamenetz of NPR’s All Tech Considered described the benefits and importance of using student data in an educational environment. She explained, “Programs such as DreamBox Learning, Khan Academy and Scholastic’s Math 180 automatically crunch information at split-second intervals, from how many problems a student solved to the time he or she spent doing it. This information can create a detailed picture of student performance, and prompt teacher interventions at just the right moment—an innovation known as ‘learning analytics.’”
This ability to almost instantaneously review individual student progress, as well as classroom and school-wide achievements, means teachers and school administrators alike can pinpoint the exact needs of their schools. Allie Bidwell, U.S. News & World Report’s education reporter, reinforces this concept in a piece looking at how more states are using student data to inform the changes needed to improve their education systems. Citing Paige Kowalski, director of state policy and advocacy at the Data Quality Campaign, Bidwell noted that “more and more, states are hearing from teachers that this kind of data is as important a resource to improve student achievement as the textbooks they use, or having efficient Internet access because it helps them move toward more personalized learning.”
The power of personalization
Learning analytics can arm all learning guardians—principals, teachers, educators, and parents—with highly actionable academic data reports. This data gives them the power to actively address students exactly where they are, whether they have gaps in understanding or areas where they excel, to shape and inform effective instructional practice in a highly personalized way.
Data-driven learning environments become even more effective when they are coupled with intelligent adaptive technology that enables the personalization of content, pace, and sequence. When a student is placed at the center of their own learning experience, confidence, comprehension, and achievement grow in an environment that is intrinsically motivational.
Engaging parents and students
The involvement of learning guardians in the home is also a key factor in a student’s success. That’s why it’s important to share data with parents about their child’s milestone achievements and the direction their curriculum will take them. Students are naturally curious and like to be engaged in their own development. By collecting information on pace, accuracy, and target skills, educators and parents can show each student a map of where they have come from, what they are learning, and what comes next in their learning pathway.
In Leaders of Their Own Learning: Transforming Schools Through Student-Engaged Assessment released earlier this year, Ron Berger, Leah Rugen, and Libby Woodfin further emphasize the benefits of using data to empower students, stating, “When students themselves identify, analyze, and use data from their learning, they become active agents in their own growth.”
Teachers, parents, and students have told us about the effectiveness of this kind of transparency. The ability for learning guardians to monitor and discuss progress with both child and teacher creates a circle of learning that fosters greater understanding, advances instructional practice, and supports deeper progress for all.
Our commitment to protecting student privacy
At DreamBox Learning, we are deeply committed to the positive use of academic data in support of transformative growth and learning. That’s why we are participating in an important pledge to protect student privacy and safeguard information. In partnership with The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), we affirm that students and their achievements are at the core of our mission. Understanding that data is a powerful tool in helping students reach their potential, with the positive, appropriate use of this information, we can help enable the greatest student success.
To view the pledge and a full list of signatories, please click here.
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