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LA parent voice: ‘Having more data available is good, but who is going to explain it to me?’

Esmeralda Fabián Romero | January 30, 2018

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Every week, we sit down with Los Angeles parents to talk about their students, their schools, and what questions or suggestions they have for their school district.

“Having more data available is good, but who is going to explain it to me?”

Sandra Sánchez, mother of a first-grader at LA Unified’s Bryson Avenue Elementary in South Gate, was excited to hear that LA Unified has committed to an ambitious program to get more data into parents’ hands.

The new online homepage will be a place where parents can search for all kinds of information about their schools, such as how often kids and teachers come to school, how fast schools are getting their English learners ready to learn at grade level, how test scores are improving, how long students with special needs are receiving extra help, how much money is sent to underperforming schools, and where early education is available.

The “LAUSDATA” project was approved this month by a 6-1 vote of the LA Unified school board on a resolution sponsored by board Vice President Nick Melvoin and Richard Vladovic. The first version of the web portal will be available starting in mid-July with a search bar providing access to data sets and at least one dashboard-like application. More data and applications will be added later.

“I think what they’re planning to do is really good, because I believe when schools are aware that anyone can see their numbers, they will put more effort in showing good results for students,” Sánchez said in Spanish. “Having more information available on the Internet was something parents have needed for so long now to make better decisions, to have the power to find the best schools for our children.”

Here’s what Sánchez had to say about why she believes having her child’s school data available matters.

What kind of data would be most important to you and why?

Test scores. But I wouldn’t know how to compare them to other schools or districts. I know test scores are important because they tell me how well my son is learning and how most kids are doing in the school overall. But I would definitely need that data to come with some kind of explanation that would let me understand those numbers easily.

Did you use any type of data when you enrolled your son in his school?

No, I didn’t look into that, because the school is the same one my siblings and I went to, so it was more like a tradition of attending the school. But I knew it was a good school because it is a California Distinguished School and is also a science and technology magnet. That’s what I like about it.

Do you plan on using school data in the near future?

Yes, of course! When it’s time to look for a middle school for my son. Then it would be very important to look not only at scores but at discipline. Then I’d like to have some kind of information available that would tell me what kind of discipline they are applying at the school and results they are having with their own discipline policies. Also, attendance numbers would be important, and some kind of data or information about the school’s environment.

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