A Design Challenge to Improve How School Data is Reported

In November, the U.S. Department of Education is holding a digital “report card” design challenge in Washington, D.C. to design tools, templates, and other innovative solutions to support data reporting requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This blog post was originally published on their Office of Educational Technology’s blog.

What if you could design a solution that would provide more accessible information for families and their advocates as they navigate students’ options for a great education?

Join the U.S. Department of Education and the Data Quality Campaign on November 8–9 in Washington, DC for two days of sketching, prototyping and building solutions to help states design family-friendly approaches to report cards that make school data more transparent and accessible.

The design challenge will take place November 8-9 in Washington, DC. Register by Tuesday, October 9, 2018 »

Photo of people working together at the Open Data Hackathon, 2016.

"Open Data Hackathon 2016" by IDM Südtirol — Alto Adige : ICT & Automation is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The Challenge

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) — the Federal education law reauthorized in 2015 — requires states and school districts to make more than 2,000 data points about their public school systems available to families in a concise, understandable and uniform format. This information is a key resource to helping parents and communities understand how their school is doing, evaluate what is working and what needs to change, and drive changes that help kids succeed. In response, states are developing digital report cards to help the public navigate important data about schools, including per-student spending, test results, and more. A key challenge is ensuring these digital report cards are user-friendly, engaging, and incorporate best practices for data visualization and human-centered design — a new approach for many states. Further, the requirements of Federal law complicate the task, increasing the risk that families end up with static documents filled with technical jargon that confuse rather than drive insight and engagement.

The Opportunity

The updated report card requirements under ESSA present an opportunity for states to revisit their approach to report cards and consider new ways to empower parents with information that is easier to access and understand. The ESSA Report Card Design Challenge will bring together technical experts (e.g. computer programmers, graphic designers, and data visualization experts), subject matter experts (e.g. state and district leaders, experts from education policy organizations, U.S. Department of Education staff), and parents and other stakeholders to design tools, templates, and other innovative solutions that will support states in tackling the ESSA data reporting requirements.

Challenge Points

Though there are a number of ways to address the challenge at hand, during this design challenge teams will be asked to focus on one of the following challenge points:

  1. Landing page: Given the number of data elements required for inclusion in the report cards, many states are considering the development of landing or “at-a-glance” pages to communicate key metrics of interest. The goal of this challenge point would be to develop designs that are visually appealing, easy to interpret and navigate, and that encourage deeper exploration of the data.

  2. Per Pupil Expenditure: Many states are struggling with a new requirement to include per-pupil expenditure data on report cards in a way that is understandable and useful. This is especially difficult given the amount of contextual information that will be necessary to include in order for stakeholders to understand and make meaning from the data. The goal of this challenge point would be to create solutions for visualizing expenditure data in a way that is straightforward and easy to understand, while also incorporating important context and data limitations.

The Design Challenge

The design challenge will take place November 8-9 in Washington, DC. We will provide participants with datasets and a detailed design brief to help navigate the requirements. There will be several opportunities during the design challenge for teams to receive feedback on their designs from subject matter experts and parents. On the second day, teams will present their detailed mockup design or working prototype to a panel of subject matter expert judges.

Creators of exemplar designs may be invited to share their designs and prototypes with state leaders at the Department’s December Combined Federal Programs Meeting in Washington, DC. We will also highlight the winners and their designs via a blog series following the design challenge. All designs and prototypes will be openly licensed and shared via the Department’s website as a resource for states.

Due to limited space, for those interested in participating, registration is required. Please register no later than Tuesday, October 9, 2018 by completing this Registration Form.

Please reach out to tech@ed.gov with any questions.

We hope to see you in DC!

Please note: All participants will be required to use their own personal computers and software tools that they feel are best suited to work with on this challenge.

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