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Harvard Offers Tips for Sharing Data with Families

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With more data being collected than ever before in education, teachers and administrators are looking for ways to leverage its value with parents and families.

To that end, the Harvard Family Research Project devoted its April 18 FINE Newsletter to helping each of these constituencies better disseminate data to improve students' learning. FINE stands for The Family Involvement Network of Educators.

"One new important insight into data sharing is that the student data that are shared with families in elementary schools need to go beyond test scores, quarterly grades, and attendance records to encompass a broader picture of students' mastery of 21st-century skills like problem solving, creativity, adaptability, and collaborative work," writes Christine L. Patton in "Making Data Meaningful."

That's why the Harvard Family Research Project created a new resource, Tips for Administrators, Teachers, and Families: How to Share Data Effectively.

Within this larger publication is a tip sheet specifically for families, with pointers that include the idea of giving children a voice in the data-sharing process by inviting them to explain their interests, challenges and strengths, to suggesting that parents learn how to properly use a district's portal to understand their children's progress. The paper even offers a cautionary note that parents should not over-use the portal for excessive monitoring of their students' work, which is called "e-hovering."

"While the proliferation of these portals in recent years has helped many parents gain easier and more ongoing access to their child's school-performance data, families often do not know how to use these systems in meaningful ways to understand what the data truly say about their child's learning or how they can act on the data to support their child's progress," writes Patton.

The tips for each group were specifically created to help them move beyond traditional measurements of student progress.

Other topics in the newsletter include:

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