Data sharing, incentives, and relationship building are critical components of using data to support student success

Research BriefYouth & Young AdultsSep 15 2020

Over the past decade, researchers, funders, and practitioners have come to an important common understanding: Good teaching is necessary for students’ success in school and work, but students also need additional support to meet their academic and non-academic needs, including social-emotional development. This support can take the form of social, emotional, and health interventions and services, as well as college preparation and career development and training. When implemented in schools, this approach is referred to as an integrated student supports model.1

youthCONNECT is an integrated student supports model developed by Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP) that is currently being implemented in Prince George’s County, MD, in partnership with the Prince George’s County government. VPP commissioned Child Trends to serve as the evaluation partner for youthCONNECT.

Across the first five years of the youthCONNECT initiative at Suitland High School, Child Trends and VPP have learned many lessons about collecting and using data, that can help inform the work of programs, practitioners, and evaluators conducting similar initiatives. This brief is the first in a series of reports and focuses on the critical—and often challenging—first step of collecting data in a school setting. We offer three lessons from our experience at Suitland High School that we hope will inform the efforts of similar collaboratives to collect—and use—data effectively.

The lessons, discussed in greater detail later in the brief, are as follows:

  • Data sharing agreements are critical components of a data collection effort—but the process for developing and executing these agreements is difficult and time consuming.
  • Incentives are key to collecting consent from a large number of students in a school setting.
  • Relationships underpin successful data collection and reflection efforts.

Future reports in this series will focus on other aspects of youthCONNECT at Suitland High School, including testing the theory behind the youthCONNECT model and exploring student outcomes.