Over-the-Counter Data: Standards to Facilitate Accurate Data Analyses
University of California, Irvine (UCI) Digital Learning Lab
11:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. PT on October 24, 2014
Description: Data analysis errors currently undermine educators’ data use. For example, in two U.S. Department of Education studies of school districts known nationally as “exemplars” of data use, only 48% of teachers’ data-based inferences were accurate. Most related literature and dialogue places the responsibility for improving data use on educators and calls for enhanced professional development and/or staff supports (like coaches, professional learning communities, or strong leadership). While these approaches are beneficial and not to be supplanted, they do not result in complete data analysis accuracy. Additional avenues for support are needed. Meanwhile, most data tools such as data systems and reports do not adequately support educators in the use of data being displayed. The presenter researched this topic and was inspired by the notion of making data “over-the-counter” in that data systems can actively support educators in the use of data report contents, much like over-the-counter medicine is required by law to support users of its contents. The presenter created a set of standards for reporting education data in an over-the-counter – and thus easy to understand and use – manner. These standards are a synthesis of over 300 studies and other expert sources, including the presenter’s own quantitative study of 211 elementary and secondary educators in which respondents’ data analysis accuracy rose by 205%-436% when just one form of data analysis guidance was embedded within the reporting environment. Offering over-the-counter data involves supplementing data reporting environments with specific forms of labeling, supplemental documentation, help system, package/display, and content. Education data system and report providers can adhere to these standards to actively facilitate easier and more appropriate data use.