Putting Data into Practice: Lessons from New York City

In this recent Education Sector report, Bill Tucker discusses the use
and effectiveness of data systems, drawing explicit lessons from
strategies now employed in New York City. Tucker explains that education
data have traditionally flowed upward—from school to district to state
to Washington—and been used mainly as a cog in the compliance machine.
They rarely influence classroom-level decision-making. Data systems,
Tucker says, have become “de facto data morgues.” Enter New York City,
which has, since 2008, utilized the Achievement Reporting and Innovation
System (ARIS) to provide teachers and parents with real-time assessment
results, attendance records, and course grades. This program enables
educators to identify students’ strengths and learning gaps, craft
needed interventions, and customize progress reports. It also allows
cross-curricular collaboration. But it hasn’t penetrated very deep as
yet. Through anecdotal evidence, Tucker indicates that ARIS data
analysis is not effecting fundamental change in teacher practice or
decision-making. To that end, he offers a number of useful
recommendations for obtaining, analyzing, and deploying data, beginning
with the central insight that data collected must match the goals for
collecting it.

Bill Tucker, “Putting Data into Practice: Lessons from New York City” (Washington, D.C.: Education Sector, October 2010).

Chris Irvine
Chris Irvine is a Policy and Operations Associate at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute