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Aimee Guidera is the executive director of the Data Quality Campaign, which encourages states to increase the availability and use of education data to help schools and students achieve better results.
She believes that the data requirements put in place as part of the stimulus money for education has the potential to "transform the education sector into an information industry."
We think this is a particularly interesting take. Many observers regard the stimulus as a short-term package aimed fundamentally at getting the economy rolling. Some are concerned about the maelstrom in state budgets that could follow the cessation of funds. But we think it’s equally important to think about ways in which this unprecedented deluge of cash changes the way government works over the long haul. Most recently, the Department of Education's interest in better data was evident in its announcement of $250 million in grants to 20 states to develop longitudinal data systems
We've had several informative conversations with Guidera. Following, some particularly interesting excerpts:
· ARRA is “requiring states to report out data and use data in a new way . . . It starts moving the conversation to actively analyzing information and putting statistics forward in a public way that will start changing the conversation. We're moving from the compliance mode to a richer conversation that has to do with value added, the value of professional development for teachers, teacher's pre-certification and the impact on student achievement. Requiring that reporting changes the whole conversation. We never had that kind of information before."
· “These are conversation changing statistics. It's not a one-time static data point. It's looking at why one school district with this curriculum will have growth and another is getting another kind of growth. It's exciting because it opens up new conversations. That can only happen when you've invested in the data systems that provide you with the information."
· "This is the transformational part of the investment. There are arguments about the [funding] cliff in two years, but we have the opportunity to completely change everything. If we can create the demand for this information across all stakeholders, we'll continue to have this demand and this need and it will transform every single conversation in education."
· "We're expecting states to be moving along the line toward using data to inform everything. This is changing how data is analyzed, how it's used and the capacity to use it."