Let’s Not Go Back to Normal, Let’s Create a Better One: Using Interoperable Data in Mitigating Learning Loss, Improving Student Outcomes, and Giving Teachers Their Sundays Back
By Sean Casey, manager of strategic partnerships, The Ed-Fi Alliance.
How can we possibly even begin to show our gratitude for what our educators have endured and achieved this past year? Will flowers and a donut really do the trick? This year let’s give them something bigger – a promise to do better by them and not leave them alone in the road ahead to make up this ‘lost’ school year.
Today, more than a year into the pandemic, the conversation and concern surrounding how to address learning loss has reached critical mass. Interoperability, or the lack thereof, is playing a huge role in this emerging crisis. To explain:
Overnight, we moved from one educational and instructional modality — in-person learning — to five: remote, in-person, and hybrid learning, as well as synchronous and asynchronous sessions. Adapting to this shift meant adapting more software, more tools, and more variety in how we teach and learn. This surfaced some difficult questions.
Without interoperable data between systems — meaning, the ability for computer systems or software to share and exchange information to provide valuable and actionable insight — how can teachers effectively and efficiently guide learners? Ensure equitable education across modalities? How would district leaders truly get the full picture of each student’s academic situation to ensure learners weren’t falling behind? The answer: They can’t. At least, not if data continues to live in silos.
This might be the most significant disruption in education in generations. Without the granular insight that interoperable data affords district leaders, not only will learners continue to fall behind, but may do so at higher rates than pre-pandemic, and be at increased risk of chronic absenteeism — all of which create potential long-term impacts for students, schools, and communities.
Change Starts Here
As educators, student success is priority #1. And unfortunately, without the ability to easily and effectively connect data across systems, administrators are left using anecdotal evidence, or worse – guessing, when making crucial decisions about when and how to intervene, provide individual support, and help every student succeed. Below we’ll discuss three ways in which connected data enables district leaders to focus on what’s most important — supporting teachers; supporting students; achieving learning goals.
Support Teachers: Empowering Instruction Through Data
When I was a middle school educator, I had about 175 students on my roster. That’s a lot of kids to teach. Beyond teaching, being an instructor meant I was entrusted with truly getting to know my students, figuring out how each of them learned best, and understanding how to provide specific guidance and differentiated instruction when and where it mattered most. It was a lot to manage as an educator — even when school was still in the classroom and operating within a singular modality.