Transcript: Accessing Comprehensive Children’s Well-Being Data to Inform School Climate Improvement Efforts
Lan Nguyen: Welcome to this webinar, Accessing Comprehensive Children’s Wellbeing Data to Inform School Climate Improvement Efforts. My name is Lan Nguyen and I’m a technical assistance provider for the California Center for School Climate. The California Center for School Climate is an initiative of the California Department of Education operated by WestEd and provides technical assistance, learning opportunities, and resources to LEAs across the state at no cost.
And so I’d like to introduce our wonderful speakers today with us. We have Kelly Hardy, the Senior Managing Director of Health and Research at Children Now. Kelly directs and supervises the organization’s health policy and research projects, including the California Children’s Report Card and California County Scorecard of Children’s Wellbeing. We also have with us today Jurnee Louder, who is Research Assistant at Children Now, and in this role she supports the development of the organization’s research-oriented publications and projects. And so with that, I’m going to go ahead and turn it over to them to take it away.
Kelly Hardy: Thanks so much, Lan and thanks to the Center for inviting us. I am Kelly Hardy and we’re thrilled to join you to talk about the new California County Scorecard and how the Scorecard and other data resources might help you in your work to best support California’s students. Children Now is a statewide research policy and advocacy organization focused on improving the lives of California’s kids and we’ve been around since 1988. And I’ll start with a little bit about the Scorecard, Jurnee and I are going to go back and forth a few times, show you some things so that you can take away how to use these data resources, and then we’d be happy to take questions. So, I believe if you’ve got questions, go ahead and type them into the chat and we’ll address those later.
The Scorecard is an online data tool and we are hoping that it’s an easy way for you and other county and community partners to access key data about California’s kids. We’ve produced the Scorecards since 2007. This is by far it’s most online version. It used to just be a piece of paper, so we’ve come a ways. The purpose of the Scorecard is to track key indicators around education, health, child welfare, and other data over time across all 58 counties and, where we can get it, by race and ethnicity so that we can really track disparities. We are intending to help communities identify both where there’s successes and where there’s room for improvement and encourage best practices — perhaps you have a neighboring county that is doing something really great and you want to steal that idea to help the kids in your county — we think that’s fantastic. And also, if there’s best practices that we at Children Now or other statewide organizations can highlight for the legislature, the governor, and the agencies, we’d love to hear those stories. And we also have this data here to support community action. So, I’m going to go ahead and turn it over to Jurnee.
Jurnee Louder: Hi everyone. Hopefully you can hear me and see the slides correctly. So, I’m going to review our plan for today. So, first I’m going to give a brief overview of the Scorecard and how it functions and I’ll actually do a live demonstration of the Scorecard tool on our site by walking you through how to find data that is most important to you and your communities. Then we’ll return back to the slideshow and we’ll talk some more about statewide demographics and the large trends that we’re seeing in the newest data, including challenges and bright spots. Finally, I’ll do a DataQuest demonstration. For those who don’t know, DataQuest is a tool from the State Department of Education, and it is actually where a lot of our Scorecard data that’s education-related comes from. So we’ll show you how you can use that for yourself. And then at the very end, we’ll answer some questions. Scorecard is an ever-evolving tool, so we always appreciate having insight into how we can make it more useful for you.
Okay, so first I’ll click on this link (scorecard.childrennow.org) and take you to our Scorecard. Oh, I can’t see. Okay, can everyone see the webpage? Okay, thanks, Kelly. So, first we’re on a landing page and we’ll get started. So, the Scorecard has 43 indicators — or more simply data sets — related to health, education, child welfare, and early childhood. This year we not only added more years to previously published data sets, we also added six entirely new data sets. That’s really exciting for us.
So, we have so much data here, how do we know what to include and what not to include? So, the far majority of the data sets in our Scorecard tool meets three criteria. So, one, they allow for apples-to-apples comparisons. In other words, they have data that’s available for all of California’s 58 counties, or nearly all the 58 counties, so that we can make comparisons across the entire state. Number two, the data is broken out by race and ethnic group so that again, as Kelly said, we can take a look at civil disparities within kids’ experiences. And number three, the data fits on a zero to 100 percent scale, 100 percent being the best outcome. So, for example, we want 100 percent of our kids to graduate high school on time. We do this scale to simplify interpretations of the data and county performance. This way we know that the higher percentage a county has, the better they’re doing across the board.
So let me show you more of what I mean. We’ll look at newborns who are not low birth weight, for example. So, as you can see, 93 percent of newborns were not low birth weight in California in 2020. This is the statewide average, of course, which the Scorecard will default to when you click on an indicator. If you want to see how counties are doing at a quick glance, you can view this beautiful gradient map we have right here, or look at the county overview ranking, where we have each county ranked from highest performance to lowest performance here. If you want to see a county in greater detail, you can go to this geographic tab and pick out a county, or search for one. We can look at Los Angeles for today. The tool will highlight the county on the gradient map and also show you where it ranks compared to other counties.
The tool also automatically shows you data for all kids of all races in the most recent year, but if you want, you can narrow down by specific race by clicking here, or a specific year by looking here. If you’re curious about indicators, sources, or methodology, you can go to the Sources and Notes button (link) right here on the top left and see more info. And I also want to call your attention to the demographics pane on the right. Whenever you view any indicator for the state, or for any county, you will see the most recent demographics, where we’ve included things like child population, percent of youth who identify as LGBTQ+, and more. A big takeaway is that the Scorecard is a very flexible tool, so feel free to play around with it. And for folks who need an easy-to-view copy of the state’s performance, or your county’s performance, you can download a County PDF, or State PDF, by clicking this bright orange button in the top right. It will take a second to load, but ultimately it’ll look like this. Okay, now we’ll return back to the slideshow and Kelly will begin diving more into the data.
Kelly Hardy: Great. Thank you, Jurnee. And we’ll go ahead and look a little bit closer at some of the data that you can see in the Scorecard. So, when we’re asking, “Who are California’s kids?”, this is the most recent data to answer that question, including race and ethnicity breakdowns — and we have these for each of the counties, of course — numbers, and then also students experiencing homelessness. We know that this is most certainly an under count as it doesn’t always capture students who are doubled up, but this is the best number that we have. And you’ll find that to be a refrain. Some of the data is imperfect, but it’s the best that we have, and so we use it to gauge which direction things are going. Many, many children with at least one immigrant parent, 10 percent roughly of youth who self-identify as LGBTQ+. So, again, this is likely an under count. And then children at or below two times the poverty level. For those of you who are into this data, that’s 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which we think is more realistic when looking at California and the cost of living than 100 percent of the poverty level, which is obviously very unrealistic for getting by in the state.
Had a question about Native American kids, indigenous kids and in most. . . I was typing in a response and I’ll finish that in a minute. . ., but in most of the counties those kids are grouped into the “other” category because we simply don’t have enough numbers to disaggregate without having really huge margin of error. In Del Norte County, the PDF does break out Native American indigenous children. Again, for places where we can do that for data sets where we can. And Jurnee showed you the data source button, which is your friend if you’re looking to dive into the data any deeper. Many of those original sources, if you are seeking to break out Native American, or indigenous children, many of the original sources will do that. It’s just something where we weren’t able to get numbers that were usable across the whole state and we are very happy to help with that kind of technical assistance if that’s needed.
All right, the next slide. So, we’re going to get into a bit of the biggest challenges that we see statewide in the data, and these may or may not be true for your specific area. So, again, you’ll want to dive more deeply into the data. Education — we’re seeing the academic outcomes really lagging behind here and a place where, I’m sure as educators and school professionals, you are not surprised that this is an area of challenge. On the health side of the issues we see that teens with HPV vaccination is a pretty low number. We know that HPV vaccination can protect against many cancers. Children in Medi-Cal getting dental and medical checkups, those are again, low numbers. And I know this doesn’t seem like a low number, but kindergartners with routine immunizations has fallen below 95 percent. We know that 95 is the magic number for measles herd immunity, and so that’s a real concern that we need to get that number going in the right direction and make sure that kindergartners are caught up in that area. And that’s the lowest that number has been since 2017.
So, we can move along then to challenges on the child welfare side. Again, we see that educational outcomes, especially for children who are not always in stable homes or who have other challenges, the outcomes are a problem. And exits to permanency within a year — meaning a young person exits the child welfare system to a permanent home within a year — only a third there that we’d want to keep that number moving in the right direction. In early childhood, I think everyone is familiar with the fact that childcare is both unaffordable and too unavailable and we are, again, moving in the right direction on this, especially with the new money towards TK, but we’ve got under half of our three and four year olds in preschool or TK, as of the most recent data. And then I’ll turn it back over to Jurnee to dive into other parts of the data.
Jurnee Louder: Yes, so I’ll take a more granular look at the data that we are presenting today. So, the Scorecard breaks out the data by geography and race and ethnic group, and most indicators in the Scorecard show significant disparities across both. The home county socioeconomic context and race of a child determined far too much of their wellbeing later in life. So, we’ll touch on some more of the most striking examples in the next slide.
But first, a quick note, as Kelly mentioned earlier, we have five racial categories in the Scorecard: White, Black, Asian, Latino, and the catchall Other category which, depending on the indicator, is usually comprised of Native American children and children of two or more races. And we know that this kind of grouping can mask intercommunity disparities that are present and mask the histories and very rich experiences of these diverse communities, but there is a serious lack of granular data, or even more granular data, that is both robust and consistent. So, we will keep advocating for granular data at the local, state, and federal levels and encourage you to do so as well.
So, the California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) asks kids really robust questions about their experiences in schools. Two of their indicators not only provide insight into students’ mental health, but they also provide insight into how mental health outcomes can vary by race and ethnic group. Just a quick note, these numbers are from the 2019 CHKS survey. We don’t yet have a 2021 statewide average number yet, but we do have 2021 county numbers., so look in our Scorecard for that more recent data. But for the statewide in 2019, an average of 84 percent of ninth and 11th graders who took the survey reported that they did not consider suicide in the year prior to the survey. However, when you take a closer look, you can see that only 80 percent of students of other races, 82 percent of White students, and 83 percent of Asian students said they did not consider suicide. An average of 65 percent of ninth and 11th graders reported that they did not experience depressive feelings. For students of other races and Latina students fall below this average with only 62 percent and 64 percent not reporting depressive feelings respectively.
Across both indicators, Black students report the most positively, with averages several percentage points above the average for all students. However, it is important to keep in mind that a student group’s race and their mental health outcomes are not causally related — one’s race does not determine your mental health. Rather, what this suggests is that school should interrogate the school or home conditions like poverty or racism that are actually causing worse mental health outcomes for similar groups of students. And if you’re interested, in 2021 counties for the suicide indicator, counties range from 40 to 72 percent, and for the depressive feelings indicator, they range from 71 to 91 percent. So, we can see that the pandemic has likely affected these indicators.
We also see racial and ethnic disparities in chronic absenteeism data. So 70 percent of all students across racial groups were not chronically absent last school year. However, Black kids in particular are struggling with this the most, with only slightly more than half consistently present in classes. Latino kids follow closely behind with 65 percent not chronically absent. Teachers and school leaders do all that they can do to keep students in seats, but we know there are a multitude of factors preventing students from having consistent attendance, and this confluence of factors is hitting Black and Latino kids the hardest.
In addition to racial and ethnic disparities, we also see geographic disparities. We’re experiencing lots of teacher shortages. This often shows up as districts assigning teachers who aren’t fully credentialed or are teaching outside of their subject area. Teachers are historically underpaid and the pandemic, for lack of a better word, was just hard. So, truthfully, what we’re seeing here is likely a natural conclusion to this story. But some counties are struggling more than others and in some counties, like Mendocino and Sierra, only two thirds of teachers are fully qualified. Some of the more southern counties like Riverside are doing significantly better, and Alpine is a great success here, too.
Many of California’s kids enter the educational system as English learners, and this rich experience with multilingualism should be fostered, yet many of these students go through the educational system year after year without ever being reclassified as proficient in English. On this indicator, counties range from 58 percent of students achieving English fluency in Nevada to only 29 percent in Trinity. This lack of proficiency likely impacts students’ engagement and performance in school, along with access to post-graduation opportunities.
However, we must keep in mind that outcomes are based on intersectional experiences, not just race or ethnic group or poverty or location. We can see this starkly with high school graduation rates. Foster youth grad rates across races are eclipsed by grad rates of students with disabilities and individualized education programs, and both rates are struggling to close the gap to all student averages.
And next, Kelly will talk about some bright spots in the data.
Kelly Hardy: Great, thanks, Jurnee. So, we will make sure that you get some of the good news. On our child welfare area many more children, due to statewide reforms and hard work at the county level, are being placed in family-like settings — meaning not in an institution or a group home — and kids are bouncing around less between placements when they’re in foster care. So, children in foster care in just one or two placements after 24 months is up to 62 percent, which may not seem that impressive, but it’s certainly going in the right direction. In early childhood, Jurnee mentioned, newborns who are not low birth weight, that’s been a steady and relatively good number. And also pregnant people receiving prenatal care, that’s been important. These are both places where there are critical disparities, especially Black women not receiving enough prenatal care as pregnant people, and yet there’s just still a lot of work to be done to make sure that the healthcare system is more welcoming to Black pregnant people.
There’s also been a lot of work on minimizing suspensions due to that sort of undefined category of defiance or disruption, and the high school graduation numbers are pretty good. We see that for children with health insurance, this is a place where the state and counties have put a lot of energy over many years — and the federal government in making sure that kids have health insurance — and we need to make sure that that health insurance means enough, but having it in the first place is a really important step. We also see that there’s been a lot of recent work on getting food access for low income kids, and I know that CalFresh is an important part of that — which is the food stamps program — and also that schools played a hugely important role, especially during the early days of the pandemic, in distributing food to kids and families who needed it. And now we’re going to go back to Jurnee for DataQuest (https://dq.cde.gov/dataquest/), which I’m hoping will help get at some of the disaggregation questions that folks had, because most of the data in DataQuest is available at a more granular level for different types of student groups.
Jurnee Louder: Thanks, Kelly. And yes, as I mentioned earlier, we use this tool a lot for our education indicator, so I think it’ll be really helpful for you all to see how it’ll work. This is the landing page. So, from here we can create a report by choosing a level and a subject. The levels can include states, counties, districts, schools, special education, local plan areas, and other choices.
For the Scorecard, we use state and county the most, so I’ll click on one of those and see how they work. And next, you’re prompted to pick a subject, and DataQuest has neatly organized subject sections. For example, if you’re looking for something like “percent of students who were chronically absent,” you would scroll to school climate data here and click on absenteeism data. And then you can hit submit. We’ll just pick the most recent school year for today’s purposes, but they typically do have several year’s of options for you to click through. And then next, it’ll actually specify a report. Our options for absenteeism data are Absenteeism by Reason or Chronic Absenteeism Rate, and we use the latter for the Scorecard. If you want to see county breakouts in addition to the state data, click on the one that has parentheses with county data. We’ll go with this one (County Absenteeism Rate (with County Data).
Then DataQuest will nicely load all the data that it has available for you to publicly view, but I also want to show you the report description and report glossary. So if you’re ever curious like, “Hey, what is this chronic absenteeism data? What’s the context for it? What does it mean?” you can read more in the description and the report glossary. They usually have things pretty nicely defined and is able to help you see more context for what you’re viewing with the actual data itself. I also want to show you report options and filters. Here you can see different breakouts. So you have things like school type, gender of students, English learners, you have disabilities, so on and so forth, and even more program subgroups like migrant students, foster students, homeless students, et cetera. So, if you click on just one of these things, let’s just go with Female Students, you would see the chronic absenteeism rate for female students for every county, including the state. So, it’s a really nice way to just help you cut the data in different ways and see how different groups are doing.
And I want to show you one more thing on DataQuest. So, sometimes you want to have access to all the data at once instead of manually clicking through report filters, or changing the county, for example. So, once you’re on the homepage, you can also download raw data files by clicking on Downloadable Data Files under Data Resources right here. They offer data files for almost every, if not every, topic that we saw earlier in our Scorecard, for example. So, feel free to poke around here. Please note that the data files are huge since they have basically every level of analysis possible. So, you’ll need to have software like Microsoft Access that can help you clean the data. It’s not too complicated once you click on an actual topic. DataQuest has lots of good instructions for how you can go about cleaning and working with the data. And if you have more questions, you can always email DataQuest — their email typically is somewhere at the bottom right here (Questions: Data Reportin Office [email protected])— and they’re really responsive. I know from experience. Whenever you have questions to ask them an email, send them an email. Okay. Back to Kelly.
Kelly Hardy: Great. So, obviously we want all of these indicators to be at 100 percent, but they’re not there yet. And this is just an explanation of The Children’s Movement that Children Now spearheads, where you can work with us to get some information and to try to advocate for things that we’re working for like more disaggregated data, which trust me, we are on board that train. And our hands are tied, unfortunately, at some level, we’re not allowed to use certain small numbers, so. . . . We are working both on data advocacy and on lots of policy advocacy issues around children’s mental health, lots of education policy, and early childhood and child welfare. And now I’d love to turn it back to Lan and see if we’ve got other things to talk about here, or some questions that we can take.
Lan Nguyen: Yes, some folks have been adding some questions into the Q&A. And I see Kelly’s been answering a couple of those. If anyone has any questions, please drop those in the chat or the Q&A function before we move on to the next piece. What questions do you have?
Kelly Hardy: So, I wanted to, Lan, if it’s okay, address this question from Sonoma County Office of Ed.
Lan Nugyen: Sure.
Kelly Hardy: “What happens in a county like Sonoma where most districts use an alternative to CHKS like Youth Truth?” So this Scorecard, this particular data tool, is meant to aggregate so that we can show as much data for as many counties as possible. Youth Truth is not something that’s used across a lot of counties and so we found that we were able to show data for more counties by using CHKS. But again, there’s many local data sources where you may be getting a better sense of what’s going on locally in your county. This isn’t meant to replace those, it’s meant to be an addition and something that, hopefully, is helpful to you in your advocacy in the community and at this statewide level. So, the data we see for Sonoma is CHKS, yes — and Jurnee showed us where you click on the source of each piece of each indicator — you can click on Sources and Notes and see where that data came from exactly, as well as which race and ethnicities were put in which categories.
Lan Nguyen: Looks like we have a question in the Q&A as well, which says, “I’d love to hear about ways that you all analyze and use this data to make informed policy recommendations.”
Kelly Hardy: Thank you. So, I’ll start and Jurnee, please chime in if you’ve got something to add. Many times we’re using this data to really look closer at disparities and trends that we’re seeing. So, for example, we will print out the data for a county for a legislator that we’re going to talk to and show them this is how kids of color are doing on this indicator in your county and use it to push forward legislation that we’re working on. Right now, we have a bill that we’re working on around testing drinking water for lead, and we added this data set around lead testing for kids in Medi-Cal under the age of two to show that we’re not catching all of the kids who are being poisoned by lead, because we’re not testing enough. And so we need to be making sure that water is lead free at the source. So, that’s just one example of, or a couple of examples I guess, of how we use that data.
Jurnee Louder: I’ll also add that a lot of the time counties have their own policy priorities that they have in mind, which is why we love, love partnering with them because they can come to us and say, “Hey, we have X, Y, Z goal. What data do you have that we can use to get us closer to that goal?” So, we’re very open to working closely with the counties to help them see what’s going on at their county level and help them get closer to reaching their policy priorities
Kelly Hardy: Jurnee, someone also asked, “Iis DataQuest available in other languages?” Not that I’m aware of.
Jurnee Louder: Not that I’m aware of either. And I’m not aware of any plans to make it so, unfortunately. But like I said, they are pretty responsive whenever you reach out to them. I had a few problems a few weeks ago gathering some larger data files. They literally walked me through how to gather it most effectively. So I feel like that they would be very receptive to hearing about insight about what you would need from them. So, that’s a great point, though, I don’t believe that it is given in other languages.
Kelly Hardy: Lan, do we have time to take another couple of questions?
Lan Nguyen: Yes.
Kelly Hardy: You stop us. When it’s time to stop us, you give us a signal.
Lan Nguyen: I think a couple more questions and we’re good.
Kelly Hardy: Okay, great. So, Alice asked, “What has the data led you to regarding environmental injustice or climate justice?” Children Now is new to the environmental injustice area and so we’re coming to that very humbly, but hoping that we can add our voice to the many folks who have been working on environmental justice for a long time. What we’ve determined is that the most good that we can be doing at Children Now is around the lead issue and pesticides, especially pesticide spraying near schools and having a buffer zone. And so I think the data, in that case, has really led us to what are the high impact places where our organization can add to the work that others are doing, and what’s our value-add where we can try to make the most difference for the most kids, and that those really seem to be the most important places.
Jurnee Louder: I’ll also add that the blood lead screening indicator that we have in the Scorecard is one of my favorites, only because it’s an environmental issue but also, as our Scorecard shows, it’s also a race issue as well. There’s no safe amount of lead in your blood. So, the fact that so many of our kids aren’t receiving blood lead screenings when they have Medi-Cal and should be is a concern of ours. And we really encourage people to take a look at that data and see what’s going on at their county as well.
Kelly Hardy: And I think we’ll wrap up fairly quickly. I don’t think we’ll do it justice really, but Alyssa’s question around pieces of data that are most important to take a deeper look at school climate improvement. The data that may be useful to you is around chronic absence, the feeling safe at school, feeling connected to school. And then in the health area, there are two others from the CHKS which are not having suicidal ideation and not having depressive or chronic sadness feelings, I think is how it’s worded. So, again, these are taken straight from the California Healthy Kids Survey and I think those are the best sense that we have that we’ve been able to include into the Scorecard.
Again, I’m hoping that you all are getting the idea that if there are data sets that you know of that cover all 58 counties with usable data, we would love to know about them because they’re really thin, especially in the area of mental health. Substance abuse is even thinner. And so my education colleagues laugh at me when I say I am jealous of DataQuest, because they think it’s not so great,and I say, “Well, you should look at the health data because that’s really not awesome.” So, I’ll end on that, but I think I just appreciate all that I know the school district folks and others are doing to improve school climate.
Lan Nguyen: All right. Thank you. And then we’ll just kind of transition here to some last thoughts. So, assuming that that’s all being seen well there, we just kind of wanted to do some bridging a little bit, especially for those of you that are working with groups of people in school climate work. I think we can all pretty much make the connections between children’s wellbeing data and the ways in which the Scorecard allows us to access those in a way that’s approachable. And so I just want to kind of offer some practical strategies here for those of you that are working with committees, groups of people, whether it’s at the county office level, school level, community level — just some things to consider as you’re working with people.
And so we all know that data can be a powerful resource to understand the depth and breadth of health, wellness, and school climate issues and strengths in our communities, as we just heard from Kelly and Jurnee. However, it is common for this kind of information to often be siloed in research and evaluation offices, or to people who are comfortable with, or enjoy digging into the data, which might limit its ability to inform school climate improvement efforts. And so really, if we want to move from data to action — that is to improve school climate and foster safe and supportive learning environments — we need to engage with our school community partners in a way that meets them where they’re at. And so tools such as those shared today can help increase partner engagement, because they foster understanding about local data in a way that is accessible and may perhaps decrease data phobia. So this ensures that our educational partners have an equitable seat at the table and can engage meaningfully in the process in a way that goes beyond tokenism. So, really all this is to say that it’s not enough to just have access to the data. The other half is really about communication and engagement, especially with partners who our plans and goals will ultimately impact. And so when approach with intention bringing partners to the table can build trust and increase the ever elusive buy-in, or better yet, we can think of it as authentic engagement.
And so here are just some practical strategies that I’ll share briefly. And so the first one is to start small. And so this is really about engaging in sense-making with groups of people, but introducing small sets of related data in an accessible way. Again, using tools such as those shared today can really help keep the conversation focused and productive. A second tip would be to allow opportunities for collective sense-making. And so this might mean facilitating conversations that encourages participants, or partners really, to ask questions about the data and offer their perspectives and explanations about the trends being seen. It’s also important, at this point to ask, “Who’s at the table? Whose voices are not being heard in these conversations making sense of the trends in our communities?”
And of course, we can’t stop there, which is why we might want to engage our partners, whether that’s administrators, counselors, district staff, parents, and other community members in the process of actually gathering data. And so. as someone in the chat had shared, with Native and Indigenous students, for example, a lot of these statistical methods can’t be applied to very small groups. But I might encourage, if that’s like your case or your situation, to really think about gathering hyper-local data in the form of what we can refer to. And I’ll actually talk about street data in this next step, which is to engage partners and decision-makers in gathering local data.
And so if you’ve heard of the book Street Data by Shane Safir and Jamila Dugan, which will also be linked in the link tree with the article that I’m referencing and also their book, they talk about these different levels of data and starting from this very large level, they call it satellite data. And so the data that we got to see today is that satellite data, it’s at the highest level and in some ways it’s distant. And so it’s important to distinguish that level because it’s very useful, but in a lot of ways they’re lagging indicators. They’re not necessarily in the moment. And so they provide a picture, but we have to gather more data to get a more complete picture. And so they talk about gathering what they call street data and, in their own words, they describe street data as “taking us down to the ground to listen to the voices and experiences of our students, staff, and families. It provides us with real-time leading indicators on the messy work of school and instructional improvement while enabling rapid feedback loops for our decisions and practices.” So, if there is a group of students that you’re interested in learning more about, while these data sets are really important and can paint a picture, I would encourage you to think about, “What might it mean if our community, if we engage our people in actually gathering these stories, these informal conversations, this more qualitative data that is just as valuable as this higher level satellite data?” So, that’s just something to consider if, for example, the specific student group that you’re interested in is not disaggregated in the Scorecard.
And then the last practical strategy that we would offer is to build momentum by piloting small-scale improvements. And so assuming that you’re working with a group of people, thinking about school climate work, it’s really complex, it’s messy, and it can be overwhelming. And so once your group has made sense of the data and collected this street data, this might inform changes in practice. And so consider taking a design-thinking approach and an experimental approach with changes in practice at a smaller scale, gathering feedback, making adjustments before implementing at a larger scale. And so we know, so often with school climate initiatives, it can often be this top down approach, which can make us invest dollars, personnel, and resources before we really know that thing is going to work in our community. And so if that application of design thinking to equity issues is something that sounds interesting to you, we would encourage you to check out the National Equity Projects Liberatory Design framework, which actually kind of sets out these steps for approaching equity issues in a way that is very contextual. And that’s also in the link tree that has been shared throughout the session.
And so with that, I hope that was able to, for those of you out there that are working in county offices, districts, schools, and other organizations that work with schools, just some practical tips for using a tool like the Scorecard with folks that you serve. And then of course, stay connected with all of the latest and greatest happenings with the California Center for School Climate. You can join the newsletter, email us, our website’s there— that’s a QR code if you’re just really excited and want to check out the website now. There’s always events, resources, and all kinds of new things happening with the Center.
And so with that, we hope you found this webinar meaningful and we would like to thank you for joining us today.