Making a Digital Difference

To improve academic results, policymakers use research and data to make changes in what—and how—students are taught. Data gives insight into student’s lives, as well as what works and doesn’t work in today’s education. Most importantly, data identifies patterns that provides insights into educational outcomes.

Before this technological evolution, the tools available were neither consistent nor accurate. If a school district was too small or a dataset was too limited, it was impossible to get reliable data. As a result, little to no efforts were made to improve education in these areas. However, with the detailed data that is provided today, policymakers are able to evaluate the many different ways to teach students and measure their learning.

A recent Huffington Post article called “Making a Digital Difference in the Classroom With Data” explains how new technology, data and analytical techniques can create better academic and performance outcomes for students. One example used is The Wake County (NC) Public School System and how it wanted to increase low rates of enrollment in advanced math classes among female, black, Hispanic and low-income students.

The district decided to use performance data, rather than teacher recommendations, to determine student eligibility, including students’ middle school grades and performance on standardized tests. By doing so, they created a model predicting who would succeed in advanced math - and found that it identified many students who had not been previously been considered promising candidates.

Education is ever-changing, and without the proper technology, tools, and data, it is impossible for policy makers to measure this change. New technologies and sets of data are giving policymakers the information they need to create new learning and/or management strategies that can strengthen a school system, close the gaps in education, and ensure a high-quality education for every student in America. 

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