This week at a conference we asked an education policymaker, who seemed flummoxed by persistent frustration among parents with education data reporting, whether the problem was rooted in the distance between the people who create the reports, and those who are supposed to benefit from them
Virtually by definition, people who craft reports — assessment score reports, college readiness guides, even financial aid award letters — are comfortable with data and with education-ese. They’ve been working in the space for years; they’re attuned to the nuances of education policy and decision-making. And they’re usually really good at reading charts and graphs.
And they speak English at home, attended college, and own computers with fast internet connections. Oh — and their jobs require that they spend time knee-deep in data.
Contrast that with many of the users of education data reports: They come in all shapes and sizes, hailing from all backgrounds, but we can be fairly certain that most aren’t as comfortable with data as the people who create the reports.
Still, this article suggests that the route to closing that gap isn’t entirely complicated: Who ever thought that dense financial, pedagogical, or statistical language made sense at a time when colleges and universities are working hard, expending resources, to diversify their student bodies?
Not using clear, straightforward language, terminology that you don’t have to be a lawyer, accountant, or psychometrician to put to use, when communicating with a diverse student and family population…that seems pretty dense.