Data Capacity for Equity Partnership

  • Pathway to Change Area: Agency Impact Measures of Progress
  • Outcome from the PSESD Pathway to Change: Adoption of racial equity lens; skill and will for change
  • Indicator Description: Partners adopt gap-closing practices

Using Data to Address Inequities

PSESD’s Strategy, Evaluation and Learning Department (StEL) goes beyond the traditional service offerings of an ESD to offer a groundbreaking learning community that examines how data is used to address deep inequities in education and to support the adoption of a racial equity lens.

“Public education data gets weaponized against children of color. We [at PSESD] don’t view the problems in education in terms of an achievement gap. We seek to address the access to opportunities linked to institutional racism. There is a deep and long history of how schools have poorly served students of color. Part of that service are some of the unquestioned assumptions about data. Our efforts are part of a larger body of work to help better understand that first, and think about alternatives to talking about teachers, kids, families and opportunity.” - Dr. Hilary Loeb, Director of StEL, said about the inaugural program

Image of people looking at data

Community Based Organizations (CBOs) examined how data is used, developed problems of practice and used the PSESD Racial Equity Tool to create questions that enabled them to gather relevant data. Their projects included the creation of new data and shared measurement systems, program evaluations, and a white paper about responding to COVID-19. Loeb reflected, “there is an eagerness on behalf of many who work with data, not to cause harm [to our students].'' A member of the Kent Education and Equity Partnership shared a key lesson through the project, “We would serve the community better by giving them opportunities to react to the processes each step of the way — the identification of issues, understanding causes, planning for action, the actions taken, and evaluation of the results. Attending [to] data communications with our community has to be a two-way street.”

The PSESD project team of Loeb, Mazraani and O’Francia was pleased with the response to the Data Capacity for Equity Series. Participant evaluations reflected a deepened understanding of both the challenge and necessity of equity-centered approaches in the development, application and refinement of data collection tools. Respondents shared that they had a sense of responsibility that work with data is collaborative and responsive to the changing needs of the community. One noted, “I would like to introduce the idea of utilizing logic models for program improvement through an equity lens.” Another shared, “I would like to improve our logic models to be more inclusive of all key stakeholders in the district: students, families, community partners, etc.”

For Mazraani, "Data Capacity partners are deeply invested in the success of students, and understand the powerful role data plays in supporting equitable opportunity for all students.“ Regional change is needed to improve both data access and use. The idea is that schools and CBOs will work together to make data connections and share data about students to improve student outcomes, with both quantitative and qualitative data, to understand the root cause of students’ opportunity gaps.

Adapting to a New Normal

During COVID-19, the PSESD StEL team shifted its practice as they revisited the Data Capacity for Equity Partners’ needs. For example, Loeb, Mazraani and O’Francia learned that partners focused on food insecurity and access to technology. The StEL team shifted all training and support online and extended the project timeline. They sought to understand and support how data capacity can be strengthened in a crisis. Certain partners needed to re-envision their data capacity work. Others needed to gather stories about the impact of school closures to improve their services in a rapid cycle.