The Journey to Come for No Child Left Behind

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February 2nd, 2012

I initially sat down to discuss and capture the impact of No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 has had on education.  I realize quite a bit has been written about the unintended negative consequences, and the challenges associated with measuring the education students are receiving.  One element that is often overlooked within the conversation is the data being collected and how data can be used moving forward.  The work we have all put into “getting the data right” for accountability purposes, when done well, has created a foundation of clean, consistent and detailed data that can be used to help individual students achieve.

 

We are now seeing some of the most progressive educational agencies beginning to turn data into initiatives that support the personalization of education.  These initiatives improve individual success and in aggregate improve the accountability measures for all the subgroups that contain those individual students.   We are getting to the place where our accountability systems are being used directly to improve education, not just to identify areas where improvement is needed.

 

It is generally understood that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has done an excellent job implementing and using data to drive accountability for many years.  In fact, to a significant extent, Texas was a key influence for NCLB.  TEA has realized that they have gained great insight and value from understanding both successes and failures at an aggregate level and that the next phase of growth and improvement will come from helping individual students in classrooms achieve success.  They have also found that the ability to collect and cleanse data at a detailed level is essential to this objective.  This thinking is behind their District Facing Data Warehouse initiative in which TEA is partnering with eScholar and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

 

eScholar has played a key role in the application of data for many of today’s largest SEAs and LEAs.  We have always worked with individual districts and institutions, who have been primarily focused on individual student achievement, while at the same time, helping states meet their accountability reporting requirements with the same products.  Since we have been focused on individual students at the local level, we are prepared for and very excited about this evolution of thinking at the state level.

 

There are many benefits to this shift that will be played out over the next couple of years; 1) SEAs get to wring substantial new value out of data they have already been collecting; 2) districts, institutions (and students) can benefit from valuable personalization capabilities across the state, not just in a few districts; and 3) these systems can support students seamlessly as they move from district to district and as they progress from P-12 into postsecondary education.

 

This is a very exciting time to be in this industry as we are dramatically increasing our ability to use data to personalize education.  It is ironic to think that NCLB, which in many respects is such a blunt instrument, helped get us to this point.

 

This blog was created to share with readers our observations and insights into how data are being deployed, the outcomes achieved (both good and bad), and insights that may be helpful to others.  I know this conversation will benefit from different perspectives and I welcome your feedback.

 

Also, if you believe there are topics where our perspective on the exciting data work occurring across the country could be helpful, please feel free to ask.

 

Wishing us all success in the most important endeavor there is- education.

 

Shawn

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