Pursuing Data Justice: Developing the Conditions to Change Practice

Data justice has the potential to transform our education system to create the conditions for all students to thrive. But how do we take the next step on our journey?

As we shared back in August 2023 in Advancing Equity through Data Justice, Region 16 Comprehensive Center and the Oregon Department of Education are deep into a multi-year data justice project.

Together, we’re working to address ongoing misrepresentation and undercounts of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) students at the local and state levels.

Federal reporting requirements — especially for students who identify as AI/AN and another race — lead to the erasure of “a majority of Native Americans and lumps them into a catch-all category with groups that have significantly different backgrounds and life experiences” (Maxim, Sanchez, & Huyser, 2023).

These requirements often impact how local, state, and regional agencies collect and interpret their data, too. In public education, inequitable data collection policies and practices mean that many Native American students are unable to receive the services and resources that they are entitled to through federal and state programs.

State education agencies can lead the way in improving policies and processes around data collection, analysis, and disaggregation. So how did the Oregon Department of Education get started?

Identify Measurable Goals and Create Models

Region 16 and the Oregon Department of Education decided to develop a logic model to map out the future of the data justice initiative. The content of the logic model was reviewed and revised by agency leaders, staff and partners to reflect collective needs and goals.

Although the initial logic model was developed in August 2022, it continues to evolve with the initiative. It will continue to support the initiative as a living document and will serve as an example for developing future projects under the data justice umbrella.

Examine Current Processes and Develop Recommendations

In November 2022, Region 16 and the Oregon Department of Education developed interviews and interview protocols for both state and local education agency staff.

Interviews with state agency staff aimed to uncover existing resources and pinpoint barriers impacting the identification of Native youth. From the interviews, Region 16 selected interviewees to participate in a series of Data Technical Working Group sessions.

Members included staff in leadership roles, staff with experience supporting Native American youth, and staff with technical expertise in data collection processes and practices.

The Data Technical Working Group convened throughout the 2022–23 year to develop recommendations to improve agencywide ability to collect, access, and report accurate AI/AN student data.

What’s Next?

In fall 2023, leaders at the Oregon Department of Education are reviewing and prioritizing the recommendations of the Data Technical Working Group for state-level practices and processes. They’re also beginning outreach to districts to offer guidance for improved data collection and reporting at the local level.

This blog was co-written by authors at Region 16 Comprehensive Center and Marzano Research. Learn more about Region 16’s work with the Oregon Department of Education at r16cc.org/what-we-do.

Maxim, R., Sanchez, G. R., & Huyser, K. R. (2023, March 30). Why the federal government needs to change how it collects data on Native Americans. Brookings. brookings.edu/articles/why-the-federal-government-needs-to-change-how-it-collects-data-on-native-americans/

Published December 20, 2023

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