How Can Schools of Education Help to Build Educators’ Capacity to Use Data? A Systemic View of the Issue
by Ellen B. Mandinach , Jeremy M. Friedman & Edith Gummer - 2015
Background: With the growing emphasis for educators to use data to inform their practice, little has been done to consider the means by which the educators can acquire the requisite data literacy skills. This article provides a context for why schools of education can and must play an important role in preparing teachers to use data.
Purpose: This article sought to understand if and how schools of education are preparing teacher candidates to use data effectively or responsibly. The study examined the extent to which schools of education teach stand-alone courses on data-driven decision making or integrate data use concepts into existing courses. It also examined state licensure and certification requirements to determine if and how data use is included in documentation.
Population: A stratified randomized sample of schools of education was drawn with 208 institutions responding, representing a 25.7% response rate.
Research Design: The survey portion of the study consisted of a stratified randomized sample of all schools or departments of education in the United States. The syllabus review was a voluntary part of the survey. The licensure review was a descriptive analysis of every state’s documentation for teacher licensure and certification.
Findings/Results: The survey results indicated that a vast majority of the schools of education reported that they offered a stand-alone data course, and even more integrated data use into existing courses. The syllabus review provided a deeper dive into the course offerings and indicated that the courses were more about assessment literacy than data literacy. The licensure review yielded a plethora of skills and knowledge related to data that are included in state requirements. However, there was wide variation across states in their requirements.
Conclusions: Even though schools of education reported that they are teaching about data-driven decision making in their teacher preparation programs, the results indicate that the content is more about assessment literacy than data literacy. This finding is consistent with the often observed conflation of the two constructs. Licensure requirements include both data literacy and assessment literacy, but the emphasis is more on assessment than data. With the increasing emphasis by policy makers on the importance of educators using data, it is essential that schools of education begin to incorporate data concepts into their curricula and that states make explicit the data-related skills and knowledge required for teachers for licensure and certification.
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