Keywords: education, adults, data culture, statistics,
For decades data were used punitively in public education, creating a culture uniquely suspicious of data use. However, with increasing adoption of education software tools, it has never been easier for school systems to collect and analyze data on student achievement and growth. Using data to measure the efficacy of instruction on student growth and achievement can lead to more effective programming implementation, but it can be challenging in a culture hesitant to embrace data and with little training of how to accurately use the results of analysis.
Using case studies from public education systems, this paper reviews strategies for increasing the use and understanding of data within populations of adults untrained in, and often uncomfortable with, data use and statistics. The author uses a wide spectrum of communication tools and data visualization practices to help teachers and administrators understand student test score variation, distributions across different student populations, longitudinal trends and appropriate application of analysis outcomes.