Communicating With Families Using Data

Data-literate educators not only use data to drive instruction, but also leverage it in powerful ways when communicating with other stakeholders invested in learners' development (e.g., families, colleagues, and the learners themselves).
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

When communicating with learners’ families, data-literate educators thoughtfully integrate data into those conversations. This happens both formally (e.g., quarterly report cards, scheduled conferences, etc.) and in less formal, more frequent ways (e.g., email, phone calls, text messages, online data systems, etc.).

Method Components

Successful data-literate teachers communicate with their students’ families using data. Whether formal or informal, the communications share three common characteristics:

1. The data and communications are accessible for all parents/guardians.

  • At the most basic level, families can access the data and engage in a conversation. This might include options for communicating in multiple languages, ensuring that all families understand how to access data via a web portal, or ensuring that all families have access to needed technology or to paper printouts.

2. The data and communications are understandable.

  • To increase parent and family understanding of the data, educators will often share less and go more deeply into an intentionally chosen, clear set of data (or data-based headlines). For example, rather than showing every piece of a student’s work from the last few weeks, an educator may select one or two representative samples that highlight a major trend.
  • Information about student performance should not require substantial unpacking or analyses by the families to make sense of the headlines. For example, rather than simply stating that a student earned an 82% “B”, educators will put this score in context—What was the class average? What types of standards (or even themes) were represented by this score? Was the student better at some standards than others? Additionally, displaying data in graphic form (e.g., graphs or charts) will often make it more understandable.

3. The data and communications are actionable.

  • Knowing the data is not enough; family members should leave the conversation with clear, actionable next steps. This might include working with families to set specific, measurable, time-bound goals for students or providing concrete resources related to headlines from the data (e.g., for a student struggling with reading, an educator might suggest a few books from the class library that the family could read with the student, model what reading at home could look like, and even practice what reading together might look like).

Research & Resources

Supporting Research


  • Harvard Family Research Project. (2013). Tips for Administrators, Teachers, and Families: How to Share Data Effectively.

Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

To earn the micro-credential for Communicating with Families Using Data, you must submit TWO distinct examples of how you communicate with families using data. These submissions may take a variety of formats (e.g., written description with accompanying artifacts, video or audio recordings, or other products), but in each case, you should explicitly address three questions in a written reflection:

  1. How are the data and communications accessible to all parents/guardians?
  2. How are the data and communications understandable to the average family member?
  3. How are the data and communications actionable for the average family?

Please redact or modify any evidence that contains full student names or any other student-specific identifiers (e.g., addresses, birthdates, etc.) that could compromise a student’s anonymity.

Part 1. Overview question (optional)

  • (OPTIONAL) Please describe any important context that would help an external observer better appreciate the samples of communications with families or the particular teaching context (100-word limit).

Part 2. Sample of classroom data examples

You must earn a (3) Proficient or (4) Exemplary score on the submission in order to earn the micro-credential. Please download the requirements document below to see scoring rubric.

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document