Data Professionals Unite!

2019-2020 Data and Improvement Fellows. From left to right - Back row: Jade Pearce (Cal State LA), Amanda Thrasher (CSU Bakersfield), Paul Tuss (EdQ), Melanie Wetzel-Gersten (Cal State Fullerton), Kyle Landin (CSU San Marcos), Taylor Quinn (Cal Poly Pomona), Nina Potter (San Diego State), Isabel Vallejo (San José State), Ginger Simon (EdQ), Pam Dunlap (Chico State). Front row: Keeley Lewis (Cal State Long Beach), Fara Ravan (CSU Channel Islands), Carlos Julio (San Francisco State). Not pictured: Virginia McMunn (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo)

In early November, eleven data professionals who serve schools and colleges of education across the CSU came together in Sacramento for the first time in a community of their own.

In the course of its improvement work, EdQ learned that there are many assessment coordinators and data professionals supporting CSU educator preparation programs (EPPs) that need and desire a learning community that addresses the unique challenges of their role. In a series of empathy interviews EdQ conducted with current assessment coordinators, we heard many individuals cite the isolated nature of the work, and the lack of cross-campus connections. One interviewee succinctly summarized, “I don’t know who’s like me out there… Even someone just to reach out to say, I don’t get this, can you help me?” In particular, those we spoke to wanted to know more about what others are doing to address the challenges of supporting a culture of continuous improvement with data.

In response to this need, EdQ developed a year-long experience for a cohort of data professionals interested in digging deeply into improvement concepts and engaging in cross-campus sharing to

improve their practice. Twelve professionals were selected. They represent a wide range of expertise in the field, from individuals new to their jobs to individuals with 10 or more years of experience. They come to the work from different professional pathways and hold a range of responsibilities in their EPPs. Most are staff and coordinators who are heavily involved in the work of collecting teacher candidate outcomes data, and analyzing and developing visualizations for faculty and administrative groups. Some work closely with deans or associate deans to facilitate the assessment and improvement culture in the department. Others work alone to manage the data infrastructure and provide reports as requested. This diversity makes the community a rich learning environment by expanding perspectives and leveraging existing knowledge in the field.

Program Purpose and Design

The program is designed as a fellowship year of learning that will develop into a self-sustaining network for the future. The goals are:

  • To connect assessment and data professionals that support EPPs in a community of support and shared learning
  • To build capacity for data professionals to be active participants in improvement work
  • To introduce tools and concepts of data use and collaboration to support continuous improvement
  • To share common challenges along with promising practices

During the first session, the group worked on gaining a deeper understanding of the accountability and continuous improvement landscapes through book discussions and examined their current campus data use practices with a quality data use rubric. Fellows shared problems of practice and successful approaches in facilitated, small group discussions. To learn about the shifts in mindsets required for viewing data with an inquiry rather than compliance orientation, they looked at discussion protocols and conceptual frameworks and practiced using them in a simulated data discussion activity.

Taylor Quinn (Cal Poly Pomona), Carlos Julio (San Francisco State), and Isabel Vallejo (San José State) discuss a reading from Marilyn Cochran-Smith’s new book, “Reclaiming Accountability.”

Future sessions will touch on the types of data and measures that support improvement, data visualizations and collaboration approaches, and organizational structures and routines and their roles in them. Fellows will also travel to another campus to learn about their data infrastructure and department organization.

We are looking forward to more time with this wonderful group.

For more information about this program, contact Ginger Adams Simon, EdQ Data Coach:​.