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Making Sense of Data with Families

Making Sense of Data with Families

Date of the Event: March 24, 2022 | Dr. Kevin Gee, Dr. Patricia Satterstrom, Marianna Stepniak, Kathleen Pulupa, Mariela Puentes, Claire Ruhlman and Nikevia Thomas
Show Notes:

In this webinar, MAEC and the Cambridge Families of Color Coalition (CFCC) examine the challenges that families face in accessing and interpreting educational data. The findings shared and gained within this webinar will inform the development of MAEC’s educational data guides. When complete, these guides will connect families with the tools they need to support their students’ academic achievement.

Marianna Stepniak: 

Good afternoon, good morning, wherever you are. Welcome today, everyone who’s coming in. We are so glad that you’re here. This is Making Sense of Data with Families, with MAEC and CFCC. As you’re coming in, please comment in the chat your name and where you’re coming from toda...

Marianna Stepniak: 

Good afternoon, good morning, wherever you are. Welcome today, everyone who’s coming in. We are so glad that you’re here. This is Making Sense of Data with Families, with MAEC and CFCC. As you’re coming in, please comment in the chat your name and where you’re coming from today. That can be as generic as what state, what city, what county, wherever you want to share, as well as what do you hope to learn today. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

This is Making Sense of Data with Families, and we’re really excited to share a lot of information and thoughts with all of you today, and we really want to hear what you want to learn so we can incorporate that content and be as deliberate to getting to what you want to learn as possible. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

So welcome to everyone who’s coming in. This is Making Sense of Data with Families with MAEC. Please comment in the chat where you’re coming from and what you’d like to learn today. We’re really glad to have you all here.  

Marianna Stepniak: 

I see folks coming in from all over. We have California, Mississippi, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maryland. Welcome everyone. For those who are just joining us, please comment in the chat your name, where you’re coming from today, and what you hope to learn. We’re really excited to share a lot of important content today, and your feedback at what you hope to learn will really help us figure out how to share and what we can prioritize in our conversation. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

All right, please keep adding this information as folks are coming in. Could we move to the next slide, please, of our presentation, Claire? Awesome. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

So welcome, everyone. This is Making Sense of Data with Families. We are MAEC and we are so good that you’re here today. Next slide, please. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

We’re going to start off with just some webinar etiquette, some housekeeping things. So as so many of you are already doing beautifully, please use the chat box to engage with other participants and with our panelists. That is either at the bottom or the top toolbar of your screen. It’s the button that says chat. We don’t use the raise hand function within our webinars. So if you have a question, plug it in the chat. That’s the place where it will be answered. Next slide, please. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

We also have live captions available in English. So they should show up on your screen by default. To turn them off, you can click the live transcript or closed caption button, and then select hide subtitle. If you want to bring them back, you click on that same button and click show subtitle instead. Again, if you have any questions, you can reach out in the chat. Next slide, please, because we have an awesome team working behind the scenes of this webinar. Almost there. We’re going to talk about the agenda first. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

So starting with our welcome and introductions. Today we’re going to move into talking about why this topic of parent and family access to educational data really matters, starting with a parent speaker who’s from the Cambridge Families of Color, CFCC. We’ll move to talking about themes from a survey that we collected, gain some audience feedback from all of you, hear from you, and close out. Next slide, please. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

So here’s where we get to talk about our awesome team. We have Kathleen Pulupa behind the scenes today. She is our Communications Associate and Facebook Live Monitor and the Post-Webinar Support. Claire Ruhlman, who’s a Data and Evaluation associate. She’s Operations and Tech Support. Nikevia Thomas, who’s a Senior Specialist on staff and who is our Virtual Event Planner and the Chat Box Support. She’s not listed here, but Chi is also a person who is working behind the scenes today. Chi Ali-Cooper is an intern with MAEC, and she’s going to help with chat box support, too. So if you see any of these names in your chat, reach out to them directly, or they’ll respond to your questions. All right, next slide, please. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

We’re also going to introduce ourselves very briefly here. We have three amazing panelists today with us. Kevin Gee is an Associate Professor and Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of California Davis School of Education. His primary research agenda focuses on the nexus between health and education. He examines the role that schooling systems can play in influencing the health and wellbeing of children. He has been integral in our work with the survey and in analyzing the findings, and he’ll be speaking about those today. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

Mariela Puentes is a Senior Education Equity Specialist on staff with MAEC. She works with educators and families to help them build effective partnerships for supporting student learning and wellbeing. She is our Family Engagement Specialist who’s really been leading the work on this project, too. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

We have Dr. Pat Satterstrom, who is a parent advocate, as well as an Assistant Professor of Management at NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Pat studies how teams can give voice to the voiceless, enabling team members to collaborate despite power differences arising from professional and demographic boundaries. She’s here today in her capacity as a parent advocate with the Cambridge Families of Color Coalition from Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

I am Marianna Stepniak. I am a Content Specialist with MAEC. Within this role, I develop and implement cohesive organizational messaging. Within this project, I’ve been working behind the scenes helping to bring some amazing people together for this project. Next slide, please. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

All right, we’re going to talk briefly about MAEC in case you’re not familiar. MAEC is a champion of innovation, collaboration, and equity. Next slide, please. We envision a day when all students have equitable opportunities to learn and achieve at high levels. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

Our work spans across many different categories. Two of our largest projects are the Center for Education Equity, or CEE, and the Collaborative Action for Family Engagement, CAFE. This webinar is hosted by both of these projects. CEE is a project that we work in partnership with WestEd and AIR. We are a regional equity assistance center that serves 15 states and territories. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

With CAFE, this is the Maryland and Pennsylvania statewide family engagement center for both of those states. We collaborate with schools, parents, and community organizations to support and strengthen family and school engagement. Next slide, please.  

Marianna Stepniak: 

We’ll show you the regions that we work in right here. So, as I said, with CEE, which is a Region 1 equity assistance center, we serve 15 states and territories, shown here, up the eastern quarter from Maine going all the way down to Kentucky, West Virginia, as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. With CAFE, we serve Maryland and Pennsylvania. Next slide, please. We also do work across the rest of the country. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

Within our conversation today, we have two primary objectives. The first is to identify and examine the challenges that families face when it comes to accessing and interpreting their students’ educational data. We’re also going to define what we mean by educational data, and share strategies that can address those barriers to accessing said data. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

All right. At this point in time, I’m going to pass it over to Pat Satterstrom. Next slide, please, Claire. Pat is going to share why this topic matters, where this conversation came from, and share some about herself. So if we could stop sharing our screen, Pat will start sharing hers. Over to you, Pat.  

Pat Satterstrom: 

Thank you very much, Marianna. I appreciate the introduction, and I’m thrilled to be with all of you here today. I am a mother of a third grader and a one-year-old. I also am a caretaker for my mother with Alzheimer’s. As many of you, I find myself in a situation where I am just juggling more than I can possibly juggle, and at the same time wanting to ensure the best educational experience for my children.  

Pat Satterstrom: 

So I come to parent advocacy from two perspectives. The first perspective is as an immigrant, as the daughter of a formerly undocumented Spanish-speaking mother, having grown up in Bogota, Colombia, in Queens, and in the Bronx. We cleaned houses for a living and really didn’t know that much about the education system. It was a very big black box for us. The other perspective I’m coming from is as an assistant professor with a PhD, where I do see and work with a lot of data and realize that there’s actually a ton to access out there. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

And so, when I moved this past year to Cambridge, Massachusetts and started at the Cambridge Public School System, it was overwhelming to think about, first, where do we live? What school? What do I need to know about? 

Pat Satterstrom: 

And so, I was really fortunate to find the Cambridge Families of Color Coalition. I think they serve as a model for what is possible in terms of empowering and educating parents to get involved in their local school and in the school district. So the Cambridge Families of Color Coalition is a collective of families of color working to nurture, empower, create, and uplift each other and students.  

Pat Satterstrom: 

So, for example, some of the things that I learned is where our data exists. It’s how to power map in our school, in our district, who to email, who to get information from. So some of what I’ll be talking about today is rooted in the education that I’ve received from them since September. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

Here is their model of what they’re about, building strong families of color, racially equitable learning communities, strong connections, and sustainability. Again, it’s a model rooted in educating and empowering parents to be able to make the best decisions for their children. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

And so, when we talk about data today, that data to me is any information that can be used to make decisions about our children, particularly around their education, but also around their more general social-emotional wellbeing. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

So when I was thinking about where I use data, I was thinking about coming into a new state, coming into a new school system, thinking about everything from preschool through high school for my children. If you are like me pre-pandemic, that would mean wanting to get holistic understanding of schools and how they’re doing and what kind of education they provide and how students do on tests and whether they’re thriving, or if you’re like me during the pandemic, you move to a new place and you realize there’s a public school four minutes away, and you’re like, “Done. Great.” But even in either scenario, you still want to get a sense of the school. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

And so, a lot of us find ourselves on these websites where there’s a lot of information about how schools do on standardized tests, breakdowns of some aggregate data along teacher-student ratios, achievements. There’s also a ton of listservs that many of us have probably joined in our communities, talking to people at the playground. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

Through the Cambridge Families of Colors, who really encouraged us to look at budgets, I actually realized that one of the best tools for learning about values and priorities of school are their annual budgeting, because you see line-by-line item of what they care about and how they prioritize it. And so, having those types of tools, those inside knowledge from groups like CFCC can be really helpful in orienting parents not just about what schools have done before, but what direction they’re headed in the future.  

Pat Satterstrom: 

The other places, once you have your kid in school, you look around and you say, “That’s great, but I still need you out of the house in the afternoon and over the summer so that I can work.” And so, then we have to think about data for how do you find enriching programs after school, over the summer, during school breaks. That can be its own level of overwhelming information that is often distributed in many different places, and sometimes thinking about value for your money or affordability, or scholarship opportunities, or diversity breakdowns along some of these programs is very, very difficult to figure out and access.  

Pat Satterstrom: 

The third place where we think about data a lot is once we’re in the school. So we have everything from our students, our children coming home, telling us about their day, about their conversation, about what they’re learning that day. We have report cards for our students and our children. We have report cards for our schools. We have report cards for our districts. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

We have parent-teacher conferences. We have school websites, which sometimes are fantastic and sometimes are completely useless. We have parent association and affinity groups and school board meetings, which I’m learning are an amazing source of data. We have district, state, and federal equity reports. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

I’m recently learning more again, through working with CFCC, about an amazing amount of data available through universities, through foundations, through special grants that actually have a lot of information that I would really care about knowing, but wouldn’t otherwise know is out there or how to access it. Also, newspaper articles. When things go really poorly, that can be a great source of data.  

Pat Satterstrom: 

And so, many of us find ourselves overwhelmed by the many pieces of quantitative/qualitative data from neighbors, from friends, from schools, from cities, from states, from the federal government, from equity groups. And so, piecing that together into a holistic picture of like what is my child experiencing starts feeling like, let’s say, its own part-time job. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

Then we start thinking about when things don’t go well. So this is an experience that I am having as a parent for the first time with my third-grader, is having him not love school and really struggle with some issues around bullying and racism and some other areas that I knew exists, but hadn’t personally experienced because we were fortunate enough that he had attended an amazing civil rights school called Manhattan Country School in New York, where we had been a bit sheltered from some of these issues. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

And so, in talking to other parents and talking to the Cambridge Families of Color Coalition and becoming educated about data that is available, I also started to learn about data that is lacking, that is not being collected. So students reporting bullying is often incredibly underreported. If it is reported, it’s not categorized in ready-to-access ways. Sometimes we go to the school and we learn about disciplinary or emotional or behavioral issues of our children, and it’s the first time we’re hearing about them. They’re talking about patterns of behavior that we have no idea and have no way of accessing. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

It’s really difficult sometimes to advocate for our children if we’re not sure how prevalent this problem is. Is this just my child? Is it all the kids in the grade? Is it all the students of color? Is it the boys? What’s going on? 

Pat Satterstrom: 

And so, one of the things that I’m hoping this conversation prompts for us is thinking about the many places that we can get data and how to access that, but also advocating for sources of data that can be really informative in understanding where problems and gaps exist in our schools and our districts and our systems such that we can actually advocate for meaningful change. But it’s hard to do that sometimes without having some of that data to back this up. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

With that, I’m happy to pass this over to Mariela, who will talk about the data gathering. And so, I’m going to stop sharing. Thank you for you participating already in the chat. We hope to have more conversation with you as we go along. 

Mariela Puentes: 

Thank you, Pat. Hi, everyone. Thank you for being here today. I’m Mariela Puentes, and I oversee CAFE. It’s our statewide family engagement center for Maryland and Pennsylvania. Our approach is very much rooted in cultural responsiveness and equitable families, one community engagement. 

Mariela Puentes: 

And so, through that work, we want to make sure that all families, especially ones who are culturally, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse are engaged in their children’s education and have the tools to do so. So to that end, we collaborated with Kevin Gee to develop a survey so we could learn about families’ and caregivers’ experiences with education data, learn about what they have access to, how easy or challenging it is to access that information, and then begin to … 

Mariela Puentes: 

So that survey got sent out to all families on our listserv and to those who serve on the CAFE advisory council. And so, the findings from the survey will help us in the creation of a series of one-page guides that will support family and caregivers to better advocate for their children’s academic achievement and success. 

Mariela Puentes: 

And so, as part of our approach with CAFE, we know that family and caregiver voices are a source of expertise and that they’re critical, and that you all on this webinar today are instrumental in the creation of these guides, so that families have the tools that they need to advocate for their children’s needs. And so, with that, I’ll turn it over to Kevin who will discuss the findings from the survey. 

Kevin Gee: 

Great. Thanks so much. So I just want to echo the importance of hearing from all of you who are here on the webinar. In fact, I’m sure some of you have the opportunity to respond to this survey. Again, the survey was really to gather your experiences with data and also to inform how we’re thinking about providing the resources that all of you need to access data, to also interpret it. But also the key part is also, once you have that data, how do you advocate for change? How do you advocate for change not just for your child, but, more broadly, about all the communities that we deeply care about? 

Kevin Gee: 

So just to give you a sense of the size of this survey, we had about 120 to 130 participants who responded to this. So the data I’ll be presenting today is of participants in the survey. 

Kevin Gee: 

Just to give you a brief idea of who by geographic area, 40% of the respondents are from Maryland, 10% were from Pennsylvania, and then 50% were up from other states, including California. The majority of respondents were parents, grandparents, or guardians in the survey, about 70%, 75%. 

Kevin Gee: 

Then as I’m going through the responses, the results of this survey, I just wanted to let you know in terms of the racial breakdown of the survey participants, about 47% were white, a third of what you’re going to see today represent opinions of parents and caregivers of color, 12% were from other racial ethnic backgrounds, and then 10% decided not to reveal their race/ethnicity. 

Kevin Gee: 

So one of the first questions that we asked of parents in this survey, next slide, is areas that they wanted to know most about. As you can see here, what we’re seeing here is that parents are really interested in student safety. So well over close to 90% of parents who responded to our survey said student safety is a key data point that they wanted to know about. Following that were grades and academic performance/test scores, opportunities to learn. Then class size. Class size is always an important parental concern. 

Kevin Gee: 

And so, in terms of the sample size here, I see that question there, it represents about 120 to 130 participants, and different participants responded differently. Number of participants responded differently to each of these prompts here. 

Kevin Gee: 

So that said, I’m going to invite Pat into the conversation, because I think Pat can really share some insights as to how this resonates with her experience. But I also invite our participants to chime in and to give their opinions on what they’re seeing relative to our survey data. So, Pat, do you want to comment on what you’re seeing here? 

Pat Satterstrom: 

Sure. So I was personally surprised at seeing student safety be so high. Thinking about the times we live in, I don’t think this is surprising at all. I think about student safety at different levels. So at the personal level, with increased instances and language around bullying and mental health and issues affecting many of our young children, that really resonates. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

Also with health concerns around COVID and ventilation and protocols and masking, thinking about student safety. Having a child who is under five and unvaccinated, I often think a lot about this space. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

But also thinking about what’s going on in our community with violence towards A/PI, with increased racial gender tension, it’s not surprising that I think we see student safety being such a big concern for families, in addition to things that we’ve often been concerned about, like academic achievements and opportunities to learn, especially at a time when many of us are switching between in-person and remote opportunities. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

To learn from some of the, I think, qualitative data … And, Kevin, you can jump in … I think the question was broadly phrased. But in some of the qualitative work, people have talked about accessing schools. Kevin, maybe you want to jump in on that one. 

Kevin Gee: 

Yeah, I think that’s a great question. That’s just right. We left this broad and open. But opportunities to learn is just that. Not just necessarily classroom opportunities, but, more broadly, engagement in curricular activities. When we think about the span of type of learning opportunities, it could also mean the breadth of curriculum, the breadth of extracurricular activities. 

Kevin Gee: 

So are there really rich opportunities for students to engage in their own learning experience? Again, to contextualize, we have to understand that the survey is also being conducted during this pandemic as well. And so, I think the responses are, in many ways, reflective of that. 

Kevin Gee: 

That said, I will also say that in my own experience working with data and working with districts and states around data, data on student safety sometimes is not reported, number one. Then, number two, if it is reported, it tends to be severely underreported. I think many schools don’t tend to say, “Here’s our rate of bullying.” If they do, it’s not reflective of, I think, the real experiences that students have. 

Kevin Gee: 

So that said, I think some of what we’re going to present today is also a message to not only parents about here’s where you can advocate for in terms of getting more data, but also for those who are developing and designing data systems, to say how are you thinking about the kinds of data that you’re collecting and sharing with parents in real time, so that parents are kept informed? So next slide. 

Kevin Gee: 

I just wanted to share with you in terms of the breakdown of data that parents are really interested in finding more about. So we asked them, if we could breakdown data, what do you want to know? Who do you want to know this data about? 

Kevin Gee: 

So you can see here race/ethnicity was the top breakdown categories. So parents would like to see data broken down by race/ethnicity, followed by special education status. I think this tends to be a group that does not tend to have a lot of rich data disseminated about. So the extent to which parents and caregivers want to know about special education status and how these other data points play out by that group. 

Kevin Gee: 

Then the third group was by socioeconomic status as well. So if we can get data broken down by different SES groups, I think that would offer more rich insights into what’s happening at the school level there. Then, Pat, do you have thoughts on this, as well as just data disaggregation? 

Pat Satterstrom: 

So one of the things that I find really interesting about this is that this is response data from all parents. And so, it’s not parents of color who want to see race and ethnicity, and it’s not special education parents who want to see that data. It’s all parents who want to see that data, because I think many of us use that to really understand what’s at the core of the schools where we’re sending our children. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

And so, sometimes we might have conversations where our administrators say, “Well, the percentage of parents of color in our school is rather low,” or, “Our special ed needs are rather low.” I think they’re overlooking one of the big needs that many of us, whether or not we fit into these categories, that really care about this data. 

Kevin Gee: 

Yes. I’m just looking at the chat here, like you have a really excellent idea. There’s one data point that I’ll talk about where we breakdown by parents of color. But your point is well taken as we’re thinking about presenting our own data. I think it would be really interesting to see how these responses play out by families of color relative to other groups. 

Kevin Gee: 

So now that you’ve gotten a sense of the kind of data that parents are interested in, and disaggregated by what level, we then turn to our next question. So next slide. So we had asked parents about access issues. So can they access it? Were they able to access? If they were able to access, what is it difficult to access? So I’m going to share with you responses here. 

Kevin Gee: 

So when we asked parents about accessing data, a majority said, yes, they could access it, but it was difficult. As you can see here, close to about 40%, 44% said, yes, it is difficult to access. A third says, yes, it was easy to access. Then 20% had never tried to access educational data. Then about 8% said, no, they cannot access data. 

Kevin Gee: 

This, we actually looked at the responses by race/ethnicity. What I’ll quickly share with you here is that 40% of parents and caregivers of color said yes and it’s difficult to access. Also, nearly half of parents who identify as white also said yes and it is also difficult as well. 

Kevin Gee: 

So, really, I think this issue is that it really cuts across different racial/ethnic groups as well. Then, Pat, thoughts on this accessing data and its difficulty? 

Pat Satterstrom: 

Yeah. So I’m looking at Amy’s comment, and I think she’s right. I think when we’re thinking about access, it’s both getting the data and being able to interpret the data. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

In my work, and I’m sure, Kevin, you’ve seen this in some of your work, when people don’t want you to have full data, they actually give you too much data. So statewide datasets that are just spreadsheets full of numbers that aren’t meaningful to read. Sure, you can access the data because they’re federally mandated or state-mandated to show you data, but it doesn’t mean that it needs to be easy to read. So that’s one issue. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

Another issue is that I think many parents are increasingly savvy about trying to access more information about their schools, about their teachers, about achievement, about discipline, about areas having to do with equity and inclusion. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

But there’s still so many parents in our community, and I think back to my own mom, I think back to some of the parents of my son’s classmates, and some of them don’t even know this exists or is available to them, which is why I think some of the efforts of people who are in the chat, like Rachelle and others in CFCCs, a lot of the work is just even building awareness that this is something that is not just available, but it’s important in thinking about the wellbeing of your child and thinking about how you ask for change in the school. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

So while this is really important, we have to think about that 20% who was probably underrepresented in our sample, because this is a group of parents who are already thinking about data and children, to think about our wider communities where this might not even be crossing their radar yet. 

Kevin Gee: 

Great. Thanks for sharing those insights, Pat. I also wanted to share some thoughts and opinions from some of our parents about this difficulty in accessing data as well. So next slide. These two quotes really, I think, captured this idea of why it’s difficult. 

Kevin Gee: 

So one parent said, “I’ve not been provided with explicit instructions on how to access data at all.” So how can I even get access to it if I don’t know actually how to do that? I think that puts it on the schools and the districts. So this is not an issue about parents not wanting to know, but they need some guide as to how do that, which fits well with the intent of our broader project, which is how do we provide this access to instructions on how to access data. 

Kevin Gee: 

The second thing, and, Pat, this reflects some of what you were saying too, there’s a mountain of data, the waves of data that get pushed out, hoping that, oh, they’ll just figure it out. Also, data resides in multiple places. If you want to find data on the states, if you want to find data on your district or school, data’s all over. So how can we think about consolidating data in a centralized place that’s easy to access? 

Kevin Gee: 

So those are the responses that parents had about challenges with access. I wanted to turn next to parental thoughts. So next slide here. 

Kevin Gee: 

So parental opinions, or parental and caregiver opinions, about how data was presented to them as well. I think that’s critical, because if data is not presented in a straightforward way, it’s going to be difficult to interpret. 

Kevin Gee: 

So in our survey here, 40% of parents actually said that, yes, the data that they accessed was actually presented in a way that was easy to understand, whereas a third said no. I want to highlight, next slide, what made it challenging for parents when they did access data. Next slide. 

Kevin Gee: 

Again, I wanted to pull these quotes. Pat, I want to have you react to these as well and, of course, our parent participants and caregiver participants today on this webinar, if this resonates with them. So we’ve talked about this. So one parent of elementary and high school student from Maryland said we’re inundated with this mountain of tabulated data that’s in poorly envisioned plots. Parents of some students in Washington, DC said, “The information is not written or presented in a manner that an average person can interpret.” 

Kevin Gee: 

So I think there’s a lot of work that our schools can be doing to offer data and to present data in ways that’s digestible so that parents can make meaning of it. So, Pat, reflections on that? 

Pat Satterstrom: 

Yeah. This makes a lot of sense. I’m looking at Cynthia Grace’s comment about parents of special education students of color, and thinking about our own district where you can sort by students of color or you can sort by special education, but you can’t sort by both at the same time. And so, some of the trying to find your own place and your own student in some of this data becomes that much more challenging, because even if data is tried, there’s an effort to make it accessible, sometimes the systems are so glitchy that you can’t find yourself in that system. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

I think one of the issues is sometimes the intended audience of the data, and I’m speaking to this from a parent hat and also an academic hat, the data is presented for me when I’m wearing my academic hat. It’s not necessarily presented for me when I’m wearing my parent hat. If I didn’t necessarily know how to think about comparison groups, if I didn’t think about trends and changes over time, if I wasn’t comfortable with just a million numbers on a page, this would be complete gibberish. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

And so, thinking about who the intended audience for these schools are, because if they’re mandated to provide this data and then there’s an accountability system, the people holding them accountable are people who want to see data, but don’t want to necessarily enforce an accessibility to it. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

That’s where I think groups like MAEC and CFCC and others really come in to trying to underscore the importance of making things accessible, not to academics, not to policymakers, but to communities and to families. 

Kevin Gee: 

Yeah. Thanks for sharing those insights, Pat. As you were sharing that, I keep thinking to this old mantra that I continue to say out loud to the data people, which is we tend to value what we measure versus measuring what we value. That’s challenging, especially when accountability system is set up to say, “Here are the benchmarks that you have to measure.” It becomes more of a checklist thing. So here’s the data on this, here’s the data on this, because our accountability says so relative to here’s the data that we actually need because we care deeply about providing access or we want to solve equity. 

Kevin Gee: 

I think those two things sometimes don’t align with each other. So, for example, again, I do a lot of research on bullying and what drives bullying behavior. We know it’s challenging for students to navigate just going to school. I mean there’s a lot of fear of just going to school because they may be bullied either physically or verbally. That’s important data point, but it doesn’t reside necessarily in an accountability system. Accountability system looks at test scores, looks at attendance. I can speak to California system. 

Kevin Gee: 

And so, some of the things that I think are critical to the daily experiences of students, be they students in special education, students of color, don’t rise to the top of the list because it’s not built into that accountability system. I think once we start to say, and parents start to also say, this is the data we want to know and we actually want accurate data off this … 

Kevin Gee: 

I know, Cynthia Grace, you have this thoughtful comment about this underreporting of aspects of data. I think it’s key to continue pushing on your school boards, to continue pushing on your school leaders to say, “This is great from an accountability standpoint, but I’m also interested in this second layer of data, which is what is the data that I need to know to make informed decisions about my child, but also where my child is relative to other students? Also, what about the student groups that we deeply care about who tend to not get represented in the data?” 

Kevin Gee: 

I can also go on about data disaggregation within our Asian American communities. We also tend to be clumped together. You don’t disaggregate, you don’t see really deeper patterns, deeper inequities that exist as well. 

Kevin Gee: 

So let’s get to the last piece here, looking about what parents said when they were trying to advocate for their child using data. So next slide here. 

Kevin Gee: 

So we had asked parents, “Do you feel confident in your ability to use data to advocate for change?” I think this is something that is not necessarily surprising, but I was happy to see this, that parents are feeling confident in their ability to use data. So close to 65% said yes. But, still, we have about 35% who said, “No, I don’t feel so confident in using data to advocate for change.” 

Kevin Gee: 

What I wanted to share with you also, next slide, is a quote from a parent from Maryland, because I think this really encapsulates what we’ve been talking about, what Pat and I have been talking about, what we’ve been seeing in the chat today, and that’s data has to be accessible as possible, because we talked through accessibility issues. But this parent also said data has to be widely available. It has to be easy to understand. Ideally, in a visual way, photos, charts. 

Kevin Gee: 

Then I want to underscore this key point here, that data also needs to be provided in multiple languages. So we can’t be just providing it in a single language. We have districts across the US, especially in California, are serving linguistically diverse communities. I would also argue that data also has to be provided in an accessible way knowing that there are individuals who probably need data in other forms, not just visual or written but other forms of presenting that data as well. So, Pat, your thoughts on this parent’s comment? 

Pat Satterstrom: 

Yeah. I think it really resonates at least what I’ve seen talking to other parents. My mom who was a Spanish speaker, and only a Spanish speaker, not just even being given the data, but being able to interpret the data and make sense of the data because it wasn’t a language you could understand would’ve made such a difference for some of the school choices that she made, which I think one of the things that we’re seeing in the chat from Emmy, from others, from Jessica is that parents aren’t the only ones struggling to really interpret this data. Schools are struggling, too. Teachers are struggling. I would think even principals and administrators are struggling with some of this data. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

I think part of that is data gets collected, but the story behind the data, the transparency of where this data’s coming from, what was the time period, how much effort was made to reach out to different communities, Mariela’s point about even this data that we’re talking about today, about the Latinx community not being represented. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

And so, being quite explicit about not just the process of collection, but also the omissions in the data and the efforts that were made really starts a very different conversation that I think many more people could participate in, because if data’s presented as the be all and end all, and let’s make evidence-based decisions, as Cynthia Grace pointed out, and the data is not right, the data was collected in a way that was not thoughtful, the data was aggregated in ways that hide or disguise people’s struggles. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

We know that this is possible with data. Data is as good as the person who’s working with it. And so, really pushing our conversations, not just being, “Let’s collect more data,” but let’s really be transparent about how it’s being collected, how it’s being interpreted, how it’s being shown, how it’s being disaggregated, how it could be reaggregated in easy-to-use ways by different parent groups. 

Kevin Gee: 

Yeah. To, Pat, your point, I would also advocate, and I always continue to strongly advocate, for the timeliness of data. Oftentimes the data we see in the California context, and I’m sure this is true across other districts and states, especially Pennsylvania, Maryland, is that data comes so late that it becomes this retrospective let’s look at what happened rather than data in real time. 

Kevin Gee: 

Obviously there’s challenges with pushing out data in a forward-thinking way, at the same time I think there are … With the advances in the data collection mechanisms and the data reporting capabilities, that I think data can be collected and reported out, even if it’s preliminary data, so that it can really push to drive decision-making. 

Kevin Gee: 

Mariela, I do want to acknowledge your points about who’s represented in the survey itself. We had about 12 respondents who identified as some other race or ethnicity. I think that’s captured in this. But to your point about we need to do some critical outreach to parents, caregivers, Hispanic, Latinx population to understand what their data needs are. 

Kevin Gee: 

Also, rolling out that survey in different languages as well. So these are some things that we’ll be thinking deeply about in our own survey practices, because we do want to walk our own talk. I think that’s so critical as well. 

Kevin Gee: 

So this wraps up the piece that I wanted to share with you on what our survey results show. And so, at this stage that if there’re no other thoughts, Pat, that you want to share with anyone, or if there’s no other questions that folks have, I’m going to pass it back to Marianna. Marianna? 

Marianna Stepniak: 

Awesome. Thank you so much, Kevin and Pat, for your conversation here. It’s been really valuable as well as you’re pulling in comments from the chat, too. I’m seeing Mariela’s response as well, partnering with parent family centers is a wonderful idea. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

As Kevin has been saying, and Pat pointing out too, this process, there are always going to be more gaps, but it’s really important to be intentional about identifying how we can walk the walk as we were talking the talk, too. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

Claire, do you mind stopping share? I’ll share my screen for this last piece of our conversation. Thank you very much. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

So for this last bit, we’re going to ask you all to respond to an open-ended question. I’m about to share my screen. I’d actually love to ask Kevin and Pat to keep your cameras on and help respond to some of the things we’ll see coming up here. 

Kevin Gee: 

Yeah. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

Okay. Awesome. 

Kevin Gee: 

Absolutely. Yeah, and I saw the question around the underreporting and how does one rectify the inaccuracy? I think it starts with having … In my work with principals in districts, I think it’s critical to show them where the gaps are in the data collection, because oftentimes … Again, I think from a data dissemination, data collection standpoint, they’re juggling multiple responsibilities. I think the data piece is a critical piece, especially if you have school leaders who believe in data. 

Kevin Gee: 

That said, I think it’s raising these issues at that level to say, “I need to know more about what’s happening with bullying in the school. Do you have that data? And if so, how is it collected?” If they have challenges responding to that, I think it’s critical to continue to push on that and to say, “Hey, how are you going to be collecting more accurate data on that?” 

Kevin Gee: 

In fact, I’m thinking about this critically as I’m preparing to roll out a survey around school bullying, to look at the experiences of kids of color in certain districts to do that. That said, oftentimes data is highly political. Data is fraught with a lot of challenges, and some districts are questioning why I want to ask these questions. In part because some of them see this as airing their dirty laundry, which it’s not right. I think data can be used for so many improvement purposes. 

Kevin Gee: 

But data and the culture around data, you have to sometimes confront some ugly truths, and I’ve said this before. Marianna, you and I have talked about this. Sometimes you have to convince district leaders, superintendents, or principals to say you may see some not so rosy picture things in your data, but that’s okay, because I think it’s important that you acknowledge the challenges in there. 

Kevin Gee: 

But then data is only as good as also the plans or the actions that are going to be attached to that. So once you have that data, what are some things that can data help you do to drive decision-making? 

Kevin Gee: 

Again, sometimes I see data as the endpoint. Data should not be the end all and be all of everything. Oftentimes it is, because here we’ve collected it, here it is. We’ve put it on our dashboard. We don’t know if it’s accurate. We don’t know if it’s clean. 

Kevin Gee: 

I think it’s critical to think about data as part of this larger pipeline or system, where once we now have this data, then what are some critical decisions that you can make based on this data? I think it’s critical to continue as parents to advocate for these different pieces of data that you need, but also to say, “And then what?” Don’t just leave it as we have the data, because then districts and superintendents and principals may say, “Well, I gave you what you wanted.” 

Kevin Gee: 

But it’s continuing to push and to say, “And then what?” Then if you see disparities in, say, absenteeism rates, because I work in that area as well, if you see that our kids with disabilities are attending schools at much lower rates, what does that mean? What are you going to do to dig deeper, to find out why? If you have that additional data, then how might you act on it? Pat? 

Pat Satterstrom: 

If I can chime … Yeah. I think Kevin’s response is really helpful. I think my response is maybe into some of the nitty-gritty, having been a parent in a new district, is realizing that the things that work in creating change in general really still work in schools. So thinking about collective action, thinking about can you find a group of fellow parents, a group of parents who either are in the same class, in the same school, share some of your same concerns, are part of affinity groups like CFCC? 

Pat Satterstrom: 

Because once you come together, you start realizing so that some of the issues are not just your child, that there are issues that sometimes are longstanding, that have been ignored. There are issues that others have worked on, but have been sidelined. Coming to schools with this collective platform of examples and situations and concerns is powerful. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

But that group can also help you identify what are the things that your principals, your district leaders care about, such that you can position your own needs in light of their priorities? That’s where things like the school budget can be so helpful. “Hey, I noticed you have a line item on training around socio-emotional learning. Here’s my concern. My kid feels like he’s being bullied by recess teachers,” “Hey, how does that affect socio-emotional learning? What can we do about that?” “I noticed you have money dedicated to that. How are you going to use it?” 

Pat Satterstrom: 

Then sometimes talking to teachers is helpful. Sometimes they have their hands tied. Sometimes talking to principals are helpful. Sometimes they have their hands tied. Sometimes looking at equity and inclusion officers are incredibly helpful, but only if certain other roles are copied on those emails. Sometimes escalating things to the superintendent is really important, but thinking about how you can do that without burning bridges. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

And so, that’s why these groups of parents, to have regular informal or structured meetings can be really helpful at elevating your concerns in a way that will be heard, because I know that so many of us feel like we’re shouting into the void. There are strategies that can make some of that a little bit easier and a little bit more … You feel at least the process is more in community and with support. 

Kevin Gee: 

Pat, I saw a thoughtful question in the chat here. Marianna, do we have time to get to that, or … 

Marianna Stepniak: 

I want to make sure that we get to the audience input as well. I’ve seen folks adding in here. But, Kevin, if you want to respond to that really briefly, then we’ll hop over to it. 

Kevin Gee: 

Yeah, just quickly, there was a question on not violating privacy. When the size of the group gets really, really small, then you can say that’s that person or that’s that family. But it’s possible to get aggregated data. What are some strategies that caregivers can utilize to advocate for receiving data in aggregated form? I don’t know. Pat, do you have experience with this? I was trying to think about how one can advocate for that. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

I mean if you are in a public school system, sometimes I would think it’s asking for data that’s aggregated across schools, if it’s within a school that’s too small. 

Kevin Gee: 

Yeah, agreed. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

That could be at least a starting point for conversation. 

Kevin Gee: 

I would also say that sharing the intent of why this data is important to you. You’re not there to go seek out that one person or those two individuals in that group. Therefore, you just really want to know what’s happening. Say, in California, I want to know what’s happening with our Southeast Asian students. I’ve gotten pushback to say, “But you’ll know who that student is.” I said, “I have no need to know who that student is, but I want to know what their experience, say, of bullying is, or absenteeism is, so that we can get the kind of supports that these individuals get,” because they’re masked in the broader group of Asian American. 

Kevin Gee: 

So if I can create a strategic argument about why I need this data disaggregated, I think I’ve been able to make inroads into getting data disaggregated, but also aggravated. I think it’s always saying this is why this data is critical for me as a parent, caregiver, or me as someone who’s deeply invested in ensuring that all our kids are getting the resources and supports that they need. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

Awesome. Thanks, Kevin and Pat. We had plugged this question. This is what are some questions that this webinar raised for you? I’ve been sharing the QR code, which you can either scan with your phone, or if you go to this website and use that code, or I’ve seen Nikevia’s plugged the link in the chat. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

We have just a couple of minutes. So maybe we’ll take a minute or two right here just to read through some of these, process them. I know that Kevin and Pat have addressed a lot of the things that have come up here, and there’s even so much more to be talking about. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

We don’t have enough time in this session to respond to all of these questions, but I do want to say that we are planning to use the findings here, both within the session and from the survey, to inform a series of data guides, I think, education data guides that we’re putting together specifically for families and caregivers, to be able to address a lot of these things that are coming up. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

So this question of how can we use input from parents to support making data comprehensible? What training is needed to help present data that is accessible to families? Thinking about this from both sides of this scenario. So not just what can families be doing differently? How do we ensure that they have access? What can schools, what can educators be doing differently to ensure that they do have that access and easily interpretable data, too? 

Marianna Stepniak: 

I’m seeing here, going back to this conversation, making sure that things are accessible in many languages. This was a conversation we had as we were working on this survey. It came up, you know, let’s get this out there. Let’s do a round two, making sure that it’s translated into other languages so that it’s more accessible. But that’s a huge point, that people can’t respond if it’s not accessible in a language that they can respond in. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

Please feel free to keep adding in questions because this will, as I said, inform the work that we do from here. Thank you to those who have shared so far. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

Kevin and Pat, in just a minute, is there anything that really resonates with you looking at this list? I know we’ve got just a couple minutes left, but want to ask your opinions one more time. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

So one thing that stands out from scrolling through some of these are the assumptions that sometimes schools or districts make about the data that’s needed or wanted or it’s accessible. And so, bringing up data-specific conversation is not something that most of us think of doing, but can actually be really powerful. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

Thinking about like CFCC, I’m not sure if they’d want me to volunteer them, but thinking about if the schools, if the district is going to produce data, can you do partnered work with parent groups such that they have a say in how this data is not only made available, but is also collected and is also interpreted and is also made accessible? Because I think several of the comments here, it’s too late once the data’s already collected. 

Pat Satterstrom: 

So thinking about how can we insert ourselves earlier into the process knowing that, individually, it would be a huge lift for all of us and we don’t have that kind of time. But, collectively, we might be able to really make a difference in terms of being accessible and being an accountability structure for the data collection process. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

Thanks Pat. 

Kevin Gee: 

I’ll just add that in thinking through what we presented today, data is often this one-way conversation, put the data out there and that’s it. I think we need to think critically about engagement, engagement with the different groups that all need access to data, and thinking about how to make it accessible language-wise. I just saw really thoughtful comments about parents who communicate in different ways using sign language. 

Kevin Gee: 

I think those accessibility issues, we need to be thinking deeply about, because there’s a whole swath of parents who, again, may not be aware of the data that’s available and also the data that can show critical patterns that can really, again, help reveal areas that schools need to continue to improve upon. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

Thanks, Kevin. I know it’s 2:00 here on the east coast, so we’re going to just wrap up the rest here. If you have any questions or want to continue to share your feedback, I’ve listed my email here, or you can find us at info@maec.org. Please feel free to reach out and continue the conversation with us. I’d be happy to put you in touch with Kevin or Pat if they’re willing for that as well. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

We’re going to close out with this thank you slide. Thank you so much, Pat and Kevin and Mariela and our amazing team behind the webinar for putting this together and for your thoughtful contributions today. We all really appreciate hearing from you. 

Marianna Stepniak: 

Thank you to our awesome audience for interacting both within the Mentimeter and in the chat and interacting with our panelists. We really appreciate all of you. Thanks for coming today. 

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