$1.5 Million Granted to Data Equity Project from TC’s Alex Bowers Gita Steiner-Khamsi Named as William Heard Kilpatrick Professo…

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How can schools step away from standardized test scores and graduation rates to foster equity-focused and data-driven practices? That’s precisely the question that TC’s Alex Bowers, Professor of Education Leadership, is exploring in a project that recently received a $1.5 million grant from the Wallace Foundation, bringing their support to date to $2 million. 
“I’m very much looking forward to this first-of-its-kind project and the potential of what it could mean to help partner with school systems nationally around the data that matter to them and their communities,” says Bowers, who has worked closely with TC’s Office of Sponsored Programs throughout the application process. “It’s a project that asks, ‘why don’t we have a more multidimensional framework, where we look at outcomes and opportunities to be able to help understand how we’re measuring progress on our goals as a community and in conversation with our parents, our teachers, and our students.”
The Comprehensive Assessment of Leadership Learning – Measuring Equity Indicators (CALL-MEI) project is a culmination of work from Bowers’ Education Leadership Data Analytics research group, which annually gathers to discuss and challenge status-quo methodology for data science in schools. 

Alex Bowers, Professor of Education Leadership, during a 2019 data workshop at TC. (Photo: TC Archives) 

The new funding follows the conclusion of the first phase of the project, which identified equity indicators in eight states. Next, Bowers and colleagues will partner with school district leaders to help them leverage public data, and develop tools that can help school leaders analyze real-world problems. This phase will build upon a separate effort funded by the National Science Foundation, in which Bowers and colleagues facilitated collaborative dialogue, practices, and data visualizations that addressed the needs of educators among 56 school districts in Nassau County, data scientists and tech vendors.
For Bowers, that community collaboration is inherent to leveraging the full potential of data and destigmatizing its purpose in contexts negatively impacted by over-emphasis on test scores and other variables without equity principles at the center. 
“We have evidence-based conversations, where we can agree on how we’re measuring our improvement. And administrators can facilitate those conversations so that teachers no longer feel like data is something that‘s done to them, that they can bring evidence from their classroom and feel like that’s something we do together,” Bowers explains. “That helps us build collaboration, helps us norm our conversation and really understand our practices as teachers and our community.” 
The final phase of the project will aim to provide open-access datasets and code to “democratize public equity indicator data and make it much easier for communities to visualize, analyze, and understand the patterns in their data so that they can take action,” Bowers explains. 

Published Friday, Feb 16, 2024

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