DATA DRIVES School-Community Collaboration

Seven Principles for Effective Data Sharing

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“The problems out there are enormous and too large for any one entity to tackle on its own. It does take a collective approach, with the school districts working together with business leaders and community partners, to really address the underlying challenges facing families.”  
- David Jansen, Manager Application Development, Fresno Unified School District

Rigorous use of data distinguishes collective impact efforts from other modes of cooperation to improve youth achievement. A focus on proving and constantly improving what works is founded on the smart use of data, shared across schools and community partners to identify and spread effective practices across programs and systems. Collective impact is not simply about scaling an individual program or practice. It’s about using data to improve decision-making at all levels, all the time. 

Most communities understand the need to work on sharing and using information with schools, but many misunderstand the nature of this work. Crucially, this work has very little to do with technology or technical negotiations over privacy law. It has more to do with navigating trust, turf and time, three often overlooked elements of collaboration. 

This web site and related resources provides a solid foundation that communities can use to effectively share data across organizational boundaries to improve student supports. 

Specifically, this resource is designed to help leaders implement complex data partnerships, with seven key lessons about how to begin and grow a data-driven initiative with schools in your community. 

The seven principles for effective data sharing are rooted in the experiences of communities across the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network, as well as the knowledge that the Data Quality Campaign brings through its broad network of local leaders and national experts. For more technical resources, case studies and model documents view the comprehensive StriveTogether and Data Quality Campaign Data Sharing Playbook at StriveTogether.org.

Principle 1: Pave the Way with Leaders and Decision Makers

Decision makers, not data people, get information moving—and they do it when it’s in their own best interest.

Successful and sustained information sharing across organizations in a community does not bubble up from below. It is not negotiated by junior-level staff, however smart and effective those staff may be. 

Too often, busy “C-suite” leaders are left out of data-sharing discussions until their budget authority or signature is needed. At this point, it is often presented as a favor to another department or organizational partner, rather than a strategy that appeals to that leader’s immediate self-interest. 

Laura Hansen, with Metro Nashville Public Schools, has worked on both the community and school side of this issue in Nashville. She regularly emphasizes this insight: It is always good practice to assume the first question from your superintendent or mayor is going to be, “What’s in it for me?” 

Involve these system leaders early and focus on early uses of data that will directly help them in identifying service gaps, providing evidence for budget and grant requests, and informing continuous improvement initiatives. 

This is not to say that good work cannot happen or gain attention from the ground up. Innovation and groundbreaking work can and does flourish at all levels of an organization. But sharing data across systems ultimately needs to gain attention and buy-in from top-level decision makers in order to have long-term sustainability. The partners need to individually and collectively advocate for the use of data for continuous improvement, and for the legality, urgency, and value of data sharing for the partnership.

School districts play a significant role in these efforts. As Fresno Unified School District’s David Jansen told us, in many urban communities the needs are so great and the poverty is so deep, that schools are “hungry for the educational and emotional supports that nonprofit and government partners can bring to the table.” 

But which of these services are effective? “Right now, we don’t know which of these programs to be spending our dollars on,” David said. “But in exchange for providing them some of the information they’re asking for, if nonprofits can provide us—at a bare minimum—information on when they meet with our students...we can look at our own student information to gauge the kind of programs that are having an impact on student well-being. We’ve never had the data to answer that question.” 

Communities have the opportunity to more quickly match students with the right services at the right time. Data sharing between schools and community organizations is the key to making this happen. “The biggest hoped-for impact from the District’s point of view is to better allocate the dollars we spend on student supports and to be able to proactively reach out,” David said. This kind of collaboration requires buy-in from community decision makers and leaders at all levels to drive the work forward.


Pave the way with leaders and decision makers

Principle 2: Know your information ecosystem

Connect, don't re-create...only build as a last resort

Nearly every school, nonprofit or public agency already has multiple information systems, data collection mandates, and reporting requirements. One good rule of thumb? If you can’t describe this “information ecosystem” in detail, you probably have no business adding something new to it.

Most communities don’t need more data systems; they need more system integrators.

That’s not to say that new technology or capacity isn’t crucial. But consider what already exists in your community:

Many states have early childhood data systems that track children’s preschool experiences and program quality. In the K-12 space, most school districts operate dozens of data systems, each with its own provenance and protocol. Among nonprofits, a variety of commercial and self-built management information systems have proliferated to help track youth attendance, program performance and other grant requirements. The landscape is just as complex in higher education, where each postsecondary institution and workforce board has its own set of technologies and arrangements for sharing information with one other and with state agencies. These state data systems, created over the past decade with more than $650 million of federal support, are now a crucial source of information for districts and communities on the college- and career readiness of their graduates.

It’s necessary to get to know the local information ecosystem, and learn about the legal and technical constraints of partners’ systems. It’s also imperative to understand what data the systems collect, and with whom they already share it. And, above all, the first rule of data systems is to never begin by talking about data systems. Instead, start with your shared commitment to achieving something great for kids, and the places where data could make you more responsive and better prepared.

There can also be a myth that a comprehensive data management system can be created. There are often multiple organizations working towards shared outcomes, such as United Ways, local foundations, backbone organizations (supporting the planning and management of collective impact initiatives), and educational service centers. The data infrastructure to support shared efforts must be knitted together, with a broad understanding of how the different parts contribute to a linked system that is supporting children, students, and adults from cradle to career.

No single organization or “next-generation” technology can replace this complex information ecosystem. The key is to develop a detailed understanding of the landscape, invite the right partners to the table, and make collective decisions about how to strengthen, integrate, and extend what exists.


Know your information ecosystem

Principle 3: Only gather information if it leads to action

One good question is worth a dozen points.

With more high quality data available to us than ever before, it is increasingly important to begin community discussion by asking effective questions. There is nothing that more quickly repels interest and ends constructive discussion than a ream of data tables or raft of bar charts that nobody requested.

Indeed, educator and nonprofit administrators often report that they are drowning in data. How often do they complain that they’re overwhelmed by answers? The difference between confusion and enlightenment is whether or not the information helped answer a meaningful question. And the most important questions are the ones that members of a collective impact initiative are already asking each day; they are questions that could lead a nonprofit, teacher or parent involved in a student’s life to take smarter action.

By methodically working across a range of stakeholders to understand what information needs to flow to which people, how often, and in what form, a backbone organization can develop a clear model for the data system a community really needs.

Three Types of Measures and the Questions They Answer

Most organizations have distinct questions related to the individual responsibility to the youth they serve directly through programs. They also have questions about their shared accountability with others to overall youth achievement. Finally, they see the benefit of a collective approach to shared population level outcomes across the community.

Shared Community Measures

Shared accountability questions are what a mayor might ask about the whole population, such as, “Are young people in my city thriving?” Many organizations contribute to youth wellbeing and impact is measured in different ways. This data is usually provided by government agencies in a highly aggregate form. Measures of factors like kindergarten readiness, youth unemployment, or college readiness are often referred to as community indicators, measuring population level outcomes. Collecting this information does not require sophisticated technology systems and is hugely valuable for fueling conversations about community need, allocation of resources, and the strategies that a collective impact partnership might undertake to improve the results they care most about.

Collaborative Action Measures

Collaborative action questions are asked by groups of organizations who are all working towards improving a shared measure, such as, “What can we learn from each other to better serve our kids?” Organizational improvement is crucial, but rarely does one organization serve all students or is a student served by just one organization. Organizations whose work all contribute to a shared community measure (for example, various early childhood programs all contribute to improving kindergarten readiness) increase improvement by coming together to share successful practices and align measures. Measures for this collective work might not look altogether different from individual responsibility measures or shared community measures, but the focus will be on aligning measures across organizations to ensure all participants are collecting data consistently in order to identify impactful practices that can be scaled across organizations to better serve all kids.

Individual Performance Measures

Individual responsibility questions are asked by organizations about their own performance, such as, “How many of the students I serve improve their school attendance, and at what cost?” These are outcomes for which a school or agency is directly responsible. The outcomes are often measured through individual records in more complex data systems. While a single organization is almost never solely responsible for community-wide youth outcomes and there are dozens of contributors to any child’s upbringing, it is through the practice of measuring performance, sharing outcomes, and aligning activities at this level that drive systemlevel improvement.

At all levels, working across partners to define these questions is frequently more difficult than collecting the information to answer them. But the experience of dozens of communities across the country should be a reminder that to begin with the data, rather the data’s purpose, is always a mistake.

Case Example: United Way of Greater Cincinnati's Success By 6 Data Project

When United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s Success By 6 (SB6) took on the task of leading the region to meet the Bold Goal of 85% kindergarten readiness by 2020, the need for expansion of data and research capacity became increasingly urgent. While the established first generation early childhood data systems (one for Northern Kentucky, one for Southwest Ohio) enable annual reporting and research-oriented analysis, they were not designed to support a data-driven culture of continuous improvement and innovation.

In January 2014, SB6 launched the SB6 Data Project to assess and improve data systems and work processes that support kindergarten readiness efforts and inform early childhood education practices, strategies, and investments. The first, and likely most critical, step of the SB6 Data Project was to build a strong foundation for the project, including establishing goals and key questions that include that will guide any future data systems work.


Only gather information if it leads to action

  • United Way of Greater Cincinnati Success By 6® Data Project: The first, and likely most critical, step of the SB6 Data Project, a foundational element to support the regional Bold Goal of having 85% of children ready for kindergarten by 2020, was to establish goals and key questions that will guide any future data systems work. The process followed by SB6 to build this foundation speaks to many critical elements of data-sharing partnerships, including the importance of engaging internal and external stakeholders in a process to give voice to system priorities. Read full Case Example
  • Using Data to Innovate (DQC Podcast): In 2012 a group of four superintendents overseeing education in Texas’s giant Fort Bend County (and working with All Kids Alliance) brought their Collective Impact group a problem: across the county, kids’ math achievement was tailing off in elementary school to the extent that many of these youth were falling off a college-going academic track. Could they get some help? Listen to the Podcast
  • Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation Recognized for Supporting Data Use to Improve Student Learning and Achievement: Several years ago all EVSC schools formed data support teams led by data and achievement coaches, a decision informed by EVSC’s adoption of the Harvard-based DATA WISE approach for supporting student learning and improving schools through teacher data literacy—the skills needed to effectively use data to improve instruction. Learn more
  • Summit Education Initiative, Akron, OH: Turning Data into Insights - the following cards were designed to be handed out at community events, taking data and turning it into actionable insights for students, parents, and community members: Kindergarten Readiness | Attendance | Aspiration; SEI also developed a postsecondary data resource to help uncover insights from the data available via the National Student Clearinghouse.
  • Cincinnati Learning Partner Dashboard: The Learning Partner Dashboard is a data management system developed jointly by StrivePartnership and Cincinnati Public Schools, with support from Microsoft and Procter & Gamble. It's aim is to connect student level across multiple community partners and the school district to help students access the services they need and help drive data informed decision making. Click for a video overview of goals and objectives of this data sharing effort.
  • Coalition for Community Schools:This toolkit is designed to help community schools evaluate their efforts so that they learn from their successes, identify current challenges, and plan future efforts. It provides a step-by-step process for planning and conducting an evaluation at your community school site(s): Evaluation Toolkit
  • Afterschool AllianceAfterschool Programs Using Data to Better Serve Students
  • Urban Institute and U.S. Department of Education: A very comprehensive resource on data use and protection was developed for communities implementing the place-based promise neighborhoods initiative: Measuring Performance: A Guidance Document for Promise Neighborhoods on Collecting Data and Reporting Results

Principle 4: Build responsible data use and protection into your organizational DNA

It’s not technology but trust, turf, and time that bedevil most collaboration between schools and communities. 

Schools and community organizations need to have their own houses in order to be good partners to one another. Each needs to be able to demonstrate a set of effective practices around the data they maintain. This starts with placing the student at the center, identifying what data is needed, and how to use it in a way that protects and best serves students. 

Districts and partners need to be acutely aware that they are guardians of the public’s trust, and they should be proactive in assuring parents that any use of their children’s information is purposeful, protected, and approved. 

They must be aware of and have a plan to address topics such as data privacy and security, to explain their adherence to federal and state laws like FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), and to provide the ongoing training to staff so that these policies are enacted consistently and ethically.

Addressing the student-data privacy and security is not a one-time conversation, but an ongoing effort. Data stewardship needs to be part of districts’ and partners’ organizational DNA.

Recommendations for Effective District Data Use 

Data Quality Campaign (DQC) has been working with district leaders and its national partners to capture key practices for smart, responsible data use at the district level. The practices include recommendations related to school leadership, culture, data governance, privacy, technology systems, professional development, family engagement, and collaboration with community-based services. 

Similarly, StriveTogether convened a national task force of local community practitioners and national experts to recommend a core set of practices for community-based organizations that have access to personally identifiable information about students in the school districts that they work. The primary goal of this work is to provide general guidance to enable cradle to career partnerships and communitybased organizations to learn, employ, and demonstrate best practices to protect student privacy. 

Key lessons shared across both efforts include: 

  • Start with students at the center. Identify what data is truly needed, and how it will be used in a way that both protects and best serves students. 
  • Establish a strong process for governance that includes multiple perspectives and develops and enforces key policies for data collection, storage, use, and sharing. 
  • Know the laws that affect different entities’ use of student data. Have a plan to address topics such as data security, data governance and policies, FERPA, and other applicable regulations. 
  • Be acutely aware that you are guardians of the public’s trust. Be proactive in communicating with and assuring parents that use of student information is purposeful, protected, and approved. 
  • Create a safe space for talking about data within the context of continuous improvement. Be willing to dig into lessthan-perfect results with an eye toward action. Ongoing communication that includes data ensures that data is not used to punish. 

Both reports are accessible online via the Data Sharing Playbook.


Build responsible data use and protection into your organizational DNA

Principle 5: Identify your trusted local data hub(s)

Find your “one-stop shop” to connect people to the data they need. 


Even communities with a single and well-defined backbone organization to coordinate efforts often discover that the information that informs their action is collected and stored in dozens of different places, each with its own peculiarities and gatekeepers. These communities develop many data committees where overlapping sets of leaders discuss closely-related issues, such as high school graduation rates and youth re-engagement, but often without linking these data, connecting the conversations, or pooling resources available for analysis and communication. 

Whose job does it become, then, to serve as a safe and trusted bank for critical information about the community—a sort of “Data Switzerland?” 

A scan of the field provides answers that are as diverse as the communities undertaking this work: 

  • In some collective impact efforts, the backbone organization has internalized this function. The Roadmap Project in South King County, Washington, for example, has a sophisticated data center that serves as a clearinghouse for a tremendous amount of information about the region’s youth. 
  • Some cities, such as Nashville, Cincinnati, and Chicago, have seen public schools take leadership to integrate data and services both in and out of the classroom. Metro Nashville Public Schools data warehouse is a hub for the city’s afterschool system, Nashville After Zone Alliance (NAZA), and place-based initiatives, providing tailored information back to educators and youth service providers alike. 
  • Communities are getting smarter about leveraging the very rich data that states collect on students, from the time of their entry into kindergarten through to their exit into the workforce. Using this state data to guide local efforts, Austin’s E3 Alliance is driving a systemwide effort to improve education outcomes throughout Central Texas. 
  • In dozens of communities nationwide, an independent, non-governmental third-party—a nonprofit, university center, United Way or foundation serves as a policy-neutral hub for information and expertise to any number of local youth-serving initiatives. 

What these organizations have in common is a mission to know as much or more than anybody about what national and local data can be brought to bear on different questions, and to contextualize that data for system and community leaders. As such, their most important asset isn’t technical acumen, but rather the trust their communities have in them as unbiased space where different districts and public agencies can agree to share, compare, and analyze sensitive information. 

Communities institutionalize this trust in different ways, through written agreements and decisions about how to govern and manage their data hubs. A number of successful examples across very different local contexts are described in the resources form the Urban Institute listed below. What is unquestionable, however, is that communities that have invested the time and resources to create this kind of multipurpose “Data Switzerland” are able to more quickly and successfully take advantage of opportunities for new grants, collaborate across institutional and geographic boundaries, and advance the work.

“Number one is trust. It’s the ‘EQ’ of collective impact. We can create really powerful charts and presentations, at the factual level, and have the right answers. We can convey those right answers. But we can’t be the smartest people in the room. This work is about ownership, empowerment.”
Kyle Gardner, Deputy Executive Director
The Commit! Partnership in Dallas, Texas

Knitting Together a Data System

As central as data is to collective impact, not all backbone organizations aspire to also serve as their community’s data hub. In Cincinnati, StrivePartnership serves as the cradle to career partnership backbone, and publishes an annual report card related to education in the urban core. StrivePartnership also partnered with Cincinnati Public Schools to build the Learning Partner Dashboard, a data system housed by the district that connects student level academic data with information on what community-provided services students receive. 

But local universities and other partners are playing key roles in data analysis and use, and part of a larger community effort. In addition, United Way of Greater Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati play the lead roles in the Community Research Collaborative, which is an authority on regional data across multiple data topical areas. A key project is  Facts Matter, a regional data portal and outreach effort to make population level data more accessible to the community. Related efforts around data may exist, and in fact be necessary. However, it is important that all the key stakeholders are aware of each other, and working in complementary ways


Identify your trusted local data hub(s)

Principle 6: Don't blame it on FERPA

Federal law is a foundation to protect student privacy, but it doesn't prevent most legitimate data sharing in the service of helping kids.

Like many federal laws, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is not exactly bedside reading. As the foundational federal law on student privacy, it establishes student rights by restricting with whom and under what circumstances schools can share students’ personally identifiable information. Some FERPA provisions are very simple, like its guarantee that parents can review their child’s education record. Yet it does allow for reasonable data sharing.

Authorized partners who support students within the district outside of the classroom may be granted access to relevant records by the school system, and these partners are held to the same privacy and security standards. Data sharing between schools eases the red tape of transfers, financial aid, and health and safety protocols. And no one is permitted to use student data for anything other than the original purpose for which it was shared. The US Department of Education is expressly prohibited from creating a central database of personally identifiable student data.

FERPA is not the ceiling for protecting data. States can and should take additional actions to safeguard student information while promoting effective data use to improve student achievement. In 2014, 36 states introduced over 100 legislative bills for further safeguarding student education data. Much of the new legislation targets explicitly local issues such as biometric and other categories of data, governance roles, and contracts with different types of service providers. Importantly, all states remain committed to their state longitudinal data systems that make statewide and long-term reporting of de-identified, aggregate information possible.

Other federal laws extend protection of student data. In the increasingly wired classroom, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) regulates how companies can collect and use data from young students. Other federal laws offer funding to improve school Internet safety policies and define the parameters for using student data in research. Individual rights are always held high. Two core principles in all student data legislation are the requirement to disclose to parents all potential uses of student information, and provisions for parents to opt their child out of these data-sharing activities.

Despite these protections, some schools find FERPA a useful talisman with which to brush off requests for data from organizations they don’t know or trust, to ignore community questions that are incoherent or designed to embarrass, and to triage the battery of informational demands placed on them from youth-serving organizations on the far side of the FERPA-firewall. FERPA can be a scapegoat for communities that have failed to build a level of trust or partnership with their schools, for districts lacking the capacity to meet these kinds of informational demands, or for lack of public understanding about how the law protects student records. Evidence from the rich and sophisticated datasharing initiatives underway in communities across the country is clear:

When it is in the students’ best interest, very little legitimate data-sharing between schools and communities is prohibited by FERPA or the array of state and federal laws that extend it.

FERPA is not the problem. By establishing clear standards for student privacy and blazing specific paths for schools and communities to work together more closely, FERPA is our map for getting to “yes.”


In 2011, the Department of Education revised its FERPA implementation regulations. The new regulations allow schools to use basic, noninvasive information for “directories” such as yearbooks, but they must give parents express notice, and parents have the right to opt-out (except in cases of safety measures, such as student ID badges). The new regulations also clarify how state longitudinal data can be used by researchers to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of various education programs, and what disclosures must be made to parents.

Case Example

Cutting through the red tape of FERPA can be challenging, but the results are worth it. School and district leadership are hungry for answers, and the data is there, waiting to be used. It’s often just a matter of demonstrating what quick access to data can do. For example, Summit Education Initiative, a cradle to career partnership in Akron, OH, created a color-coded, sortable, interactive spreadsheet pinpointing which students were in danger of failing the state math exam. According to Matt Deevers, senior research associate with Summit Education Initiative, it took about one week to do the analysis, but it took five weeks to get the data from the school district. Matt told the superintendent that if the partnership was authorized to pull the data, they would be able to share additional analysis in one day. When the superintendent heard this and reviewed the analysis, the situation immediately changed:

“They (the school district) signed the authorization right away. Because they had other questions! ‘How many of these students are in afterschool programs? How many live in this zip code, or are new to the school district?’ Principals loved having actionable information in hand that could be used the next day in the classroom.”
- Matt Deevers, Senior Research Associate Summit Education Initiative


Don't blame it on FERPA

  • General Privacy Guidance
  • Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) A resource from the U.S. Department of Education regarding “data privacy, confidentiality, and security practices related to student-level longitudinal data systems and other uses of student data.” The PTAC has also developed a Toolkit that serves as a collection of tools and other resources on security, data governance, data sharing, legal references and disclosure avoidance from the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Resources: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality (DQC) Includes infographics on understanding FERPA, short videos on who uses student data, guides for communicating about privacy to parents and policymakers, “mythbusters” for separating education data facts from fiction, and a Stoplight for Student Data Use.
  • The Protecting Privacy in Connected Learning toolkit, created by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), is an in-depth, step-by-step guide to navigating the four major federal laws. The revised (v.2) Toolkit covers the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA); Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA); Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA); Protecting Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA); and related privacy issues.
  • Urban Institute and U.S. Department of Education: Measuring Performance: A Guidance Document for Promise Neighborhoods on Collecting Data and Reporting Results
  • Key Elements of Data Sharing Agreements, from the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership
  • SIF Association - Data Privacy, Security, and Interoperability
  • Digital Compliance and Student Privacy: A Roadmap for Schools.
  • Common Sense Media School Privacy Zone
  • FERPA-specific Guidance:
  • Overview of the December 2011 Revised FERPA Regulations, U.S. Dept. of Education
  • FERPA | SHERPA: A one-stop shop for service providers, parents, school officials, and policy makers to guide responsible uses of student data
  • COPPA-specific Guidance: Privacy and Children's Data - An Overview of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
  • HIPAA-specific Guidance: Joint Guidance on the Application of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) And the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) To Student Health Records
  • Resources from Communities: the following resources have been made available by communities
  • Sample Data Sharing Agreements, via the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership
  • Achieve Quad Cities, Quad Cities, IA: Data Sharing Agreement
  • Commit!, Dallas, TX: Data Sharing Agreement | Project Authorization | Partner Confidentiality | Nondisclosure
  • Summit Education Initiative, Akron, OH: Data Sharing Agreement | Project Authorization | Confidentiality
  • Road Map Project, Seattle, WA: Data Sharing Agreement
  • StrivePartnership,Cincinnati, OH: Data Sharing Agreement | Parent Consent | Partner Confidentiality
  • Principle 7: Invest in the people who will lead the work

    You can choose to develop the technology systems, but you HAVE to develop the people.

    Data sharing and collaboration across schools and communities works because of a combination of tools, processes, and people. Think of it as a three-legged stool. Without focusing on and investing in the people who will make the work happen, the stool tips and the effort collapses. A data system and procedures to navigate data sharing are important components, but not sufficient. 

    Local leaders should identify and invest in the people who will drive this work forward. Having the right people across multiple stakeholder organizations is critical to success and to accelerating the pace of progress.

    Building the broader community’s capacity to use and understand data is also important to catalyzing a culture of continuous improvement. Educating local stakeholders in accessing and interpreting data, standards of data sharing and privacy, and continuous improvement principles will go a long way toward widespread adoption and sustainability. 

    “Business partners bring a distinctive experience and capability set to community data-system building efforts. Not only do we business folk bring expertise at using data to make better decisions, we also help community partners drive adoption of new data sharing tools and practices by focusing on the value they provide to both leaders and system users. This time-tested business approach really works in collective impact efforts, too!”
    - Mary G. Adams, former Procter & Gamble Executive On Loan to StrivePartnership in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

    Identify the people who will lead and engage others in the work 

    Building a data system that is designed for multiple community partners and connects student level data from multiple sources requires the dedicated leadership and time of many stakeholders. There are technical and adaptive challenges to work through to make this work happen, and a local crosspartner implementation team consisting of representatives from school districts, community organizations, funders, schools, and partners can really help to accelerate the pace of progress. 

    In Cincinnati, Procter & Gamble played a leadership role in the data system building efforts by committing not only funding support, but also by providing an executive-on-loan for a year to bring her experience and expertise on the implementation of technology solutions and strategies for user adoption.

    Stakeholders and Roles

    There are a number of roles to be played and stakeholders to coordinate in a broad effort like this. Below are some of the key roles and stakeholders in this work.

    District and school based stakeholders and roles

    School District Technology Staff:
    Provides leadership around information technology systems; necessary for the integration of the district’s data and support of data system issues when they are maintained within. 

    School District Leaders:
    Provides strategic direction and management of the district’s initiatives around school-community partner collaboration; ensures utilization of data as a core component of the work. 

    Administrative Support:
    Provides support in keeping track of parent consent forms, confidentiality agreements, and ensures partners have appropriate access data based on legal requirements. 

    Legal Counsel:
    Provides guidance on how to ensure the implementation complies with FERPA, other privacy laws, and district policies. 

    Principal, Teachers and Site Leadership Team (can include community partners):
    Serves as site champions and incorporates the data into existing student data review sessions and continuous improvement processes. 

    School-Based Coordinator:
    Knows specifically what services the students at the school are receiving and ensures data is entered into the system; uses data to target resources and services to students who need them. 

    Community-based stakeholders and roles

    Cradle to Career Partnership:
    Provides backbone support for the collection and management of information and data to support data-driven decision making; works with key partners to spread a culture of data use in the community that incorporates data across the educational pipeline from birth through college and includes the academic and social emotional development of children. 

    Implementation Coordinator:
    Provides ongoing leadership and support for a data-sharing effort; plays a critical role acting as neutral third-party to foster communication among partners; drives the work forward. 

    Data Hub:
    Exists in some communities to play the role of a data “hub,” providing data access, analysis, support, and training, and often helping coordinate multiple data system efforts. 

    Researchers and Evaluators:
    Helps to understand what services are having an impact and what needs improvement; provides capacity to conducts learning sessions for schools and partners to help analyze, understand, and utilize the data. Role can also occur within the school district.

    Non-Profit and Social Service Representatives:
    Delivers support services inside and outside the traditional school day; needs to input data and access results to practice continuous improvement. 

    Early Childhood and Higher Education Partners:
    Helps in thinking about a longitudinal data system; should engage early to align resources to build a more comprehensive effort.

    Case Example: Building local community partners’ capacity to use data

    Building capacity also applies to partners in the collective impact effort.  In some communities, there has also been increasing demand among community partners for training and capacity building in collecting, analyzing, interpreting, and using available data to improve student outcomes. In Memphis, partners engaged in the Seeding Success cradle to career partnership work who wish to access student-level data have to first complete an 11-hour curriculum that overviews partnership’s continuous improvement process and standards for data sharing. Partners can also send staff to any of the individual sessions that make up the curriculum. The series comprised four sessions: continuous improvement, ethics and FERPA, access and interpretation, and acting effectively. These sessions are summarized below, and additional information can be found here.



    CONTENT CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT Introduces the continuous improvement process and how data is essential to working toward an outcomes oriented mission; introduces the components of data literacy from the Data Quality Campaign.
    ETHICS AND FERPAIntroduces participants to ethics of data use, including principles and organizational practices; introduces participants to FERPA and data security.
    ACCESS AND INTERPRETEngages participants in activities to help them understand how their missions translate into measurable outcomes; helps participants understand how to access publicly available data to inform their work, interpret publicly available and individual student data, and secure data; introduces participants to interpreting data to inform program practices.
    ACT EFFECTIVELY Provides participants with a set of tools to determine what they need to know and be able to do to respond to their interpretations of data and whether they need to seek additional help; offers guidance on how they might seek out that help.


    Invest in the people who will lead the the work

    7 Principles Video

    StriveTogether, Data Quality Campaign, and the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) collaborated to create a video animation based on the seven principles.  The video is part of a larger tactical guidebook developed by IHEP aimed at shining a light on how some local communities have overcome obstacles to use data effectively to advance postsecondary attainment.

    StriveTogether and DQC

    StriveTogether Logo

    One West Fourth Street, Suite 200
    Cincinnati, OH 45202

    About StriveTogether

    StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks, works with communities nationwide to help them create a civic infrastructure that unites stakeholders around shared goals, measures and results in education, supporting the success of every child, cradle to career. Communities implementing the StriveTogether framework have seen improvements in kindergarten readiness, standardized test results, and college retention.


    Data Quality Campaign

    1250 H Street NW, Suite 825  
    Washington, DC 20005 

    About DQC

    The  Data Quality Campaign (DQC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, national advocacy organization committed to realizing an education system in which all stakeholders—from parents to policymakers—are empowered with high-quality data from the early childhood, K–12, postsecondary, and workforce systems. To achieve this vision, DQC supports policymakers and other key leaders to promote effective data use to ensure students graduate from high school prepared for success in college and the workplace.