The information-age has forever changed how public education is administered. Data-driven instruction is now an expected teaching strategy to help students increase learning, meet state and national content standards, and achieve success on rigorous performance assessments. However, data-driven instruction is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to leveraging the information-age to improve educational outcomes. Another example of using data to improve outcomes is to increase the quality and effectiveness of educational content, and better connect it to real world application. Below is an example of how it works:
Using the Common Core State Standards, we know that in 7th grade math, students need to "Solve multi-step real-life and mathematical problems posed with positive and negative rational numbers in any form (whole numbers, fractions, and decimals), using tools strategically." With data-driven educational content, you can illuminate this standard in ways that have never been done.
Starting with y = mx + b, students analyze real world data about crude oil prices (energy). After creating four separate equations using eight data coordinates, they graph the lines and see a huge spike. The teacher engages the students in a discussion about why crude oil prices spiked in 2009 to levels never seen before – we all felt the $4.00/gallon prices at the pump. Then she introduces more data, this time about the Cantarell Oil field in Mexico. Using four data coordinates about crude oil production from Cantarell, students create two equations and then graph the lines. She then passes out a short reading about how the oil field, once the world's 2nd largest producer of crude, is in rapid decline. The teacher asks students to break into groups and discuss the correlation between the timing of Cantarell's decline and the spike in world crude oil prices. A brief discussion of supply and demand follows (economics). The teacher then shows the class a short news video about how Cantarell provides the Mexican government with 40% of its revenues. Students then move on to social studies where the teacher asks, how is Cantarell's decline in production going to affect the people of Mexico. He asks students to break into groups to think critically about natural resources in Mexico and compare and contrast the challenges facing the people of Mexico today to those of the Mayan civilization. Then students move on to science class where they explore how scientists examined pollen data in Mexico's lake beds to learn how the Mayans changed the ecosystem and the local climate, eventually contributing to the collapse of their civilization. The science teacher ends this data-driven educational experience by asking students to write a short passage about 1) how the decline of the Cantarell Oil field affects other oil producing countries (global awareness), 2) the long-term impact on global crude oil prices and 3) which of the four line equations from math class should be used to predict the cost of crude oil in the future.
Who ever thought that learning about the equation of a line could reveal so much about our world? Now imagine hundreds of such learning experiences being powered by new, 21st century data-driven content. This is what NCDE does.