New National Polling Highlights That Students and Superintendents Alike Want Access to Data

High school students want access to data to navigate their own futures while superintendents want better access for district and school decisionmaking.

For Immediate Release: September 20, 2022

Contact: Blair Mann, bmann@dataqualitycampaign.org, 610-724-5914

WASHINGTON (September 20, 2022) – From education to workforce, the pandemic has impacted how individuals make decisions—and individuals, whether they are students or superintendents, want access to more and better data. The Data Quality Campaign’s (DQC) 2022 public opinion polling—in partnership with AASA, The School Superintendents Association and the Kentucky Student Voice Team—underscores that students and superintendents want access to data to support decisionmaking about the future. Students are thinking about their pathways after high school, but they don’t have access to the information they need to consider all of their options or make the best decisions for their own futures. And superintendents want to support students, staff, and school leaders with their decisionmaking but need better access to the data that supports it.

“Individuals at every level are asking for more data—and states, districts, and schools should be working together to make sure they have access to the data they need to make decisions. Students have sent us a clear message that, at minimum, they should have access to data on their own progress and the pathways available to them when they leave high school. And without access to quality data in ways that are useful to them, superintendents can’t support these students on their journeys,” said Data Quality Campaign President and CEO Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger. “Data that is easy for all users to find, understand, and act on is paramount. State leaders must prioritize modernizing their data systems to ensure that data works for everyone who needs it to make decisions.” 

DQC’s national student poll—developed with students from the Kentucky Student Voice Team and conducted by The Harris Poll—surveyed high school students across the country to find out how they are thinking about data as they navigate high school and are making their postsecondary and workforce plans. Students conveyed that data about learning and academic progress is important to helping them stay on track after the pandemic, but their own data isn’t getting back to them. The poll found that:

  • Students are in the dark about their own learning. Less than half of students report getting any information from their school about whether they’re meeting grade-level expectations, if they’re on track to graduate from high school, or how much academic progress they’ve made this year. 
  • Students are out of the loop just as the pandemic is prompting them to rethink what they’re going to do after high school. 
  • 67% say the 2021–22 school year was challenging.
  • 54% say the pandemic has changed how they think about what they might do after school. 
  • Just 35% report that their school informed them about what postsecondary or career paths are available to them, and only 35% report that their school told them if the courses they’re taking are preparing them for higher education. 

“As students, we work hard in school and want to know what options are open to us when we graduate. Without information on our academic performance and the incredibly crucial context of career pathways we could take after high school, we’re ultimately isolated and unable to effectively make decisions with our limited knowledge,” said Raima Dutt, a high school junior and a researcher from the Kentucky Student Voice Team. Fellow researcher and college freshman Esha Bajwa agreed, adding, “Being forced to take a leap of faith due to a lack of access to personal data that could show us what’s possible is a pretty uninformed way to begin our postsecondary lives, as it leaves us in the dark about how to properly plan out the future.” 

DQC’s national superintendent poll was developed with AASA, The School Superintendents Association and also conducted by The Harris Poll. The public opinion research surveyed district superintendents to find out how they are using data to support their students and schools. Superintendents shared that data is an important part of their decisionmaking—it provides insights about student and school performance and instills confidence that their students are on track for success. But whether it is provided by schools or their state, superintendents want access to more data. The poll found: 

  • 98% of superintendents feel that if they had better access to information, they would be more confident in their abilities to make decisions for their district. 
  • 99% of superintendents feel that state data could be more useful. Relevant state data could be made more beneficial with tools to help superintendents act on the information and more training and ongoing support for analyzing, reporting, and communicating the data. 
  • 93% of superintendents have started collecting new data during the pandemic. 
  • Nearly all (94%) who have initiated new data collection agree: the new data is giving them useful information and insights. 
  • Despite new data collection efforts, one in four superintendents are still looking for greater access to data to support students, reporting that they have some of the data they need to understand their district. Of those, more than half want data from their state on the outcomes of their district’s students after they leave high school.  

“Superintendents value data and want better access to it. They are asking for more information to more confidently make decisions for their districts and support their students through school and into postsecondary education and the workforce,” said Dan Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association. “These results should be a message to state leaders that they must make it a priority to work with superintendents to ensure they are providing superintendents with actionable information and the training to use it.” 

These student and superintendent surveys were conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of the Data Quality Campaign from June 6 to June 13, 2022. Student polling was conducted among 1,007 high school students ages 14–18 in the United States who attend public school or a public charter school. Superintendent polling was conducted among 253 full-time superintendents in the United States, all of whom were currently employed in school districts featuring grades K–12.

For more information on DQC’s 2022 national polling, view the full report.

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