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Step 1. Identify Local Needs

Begin by identifying the specific needs of your students and community, including state requirements, locally demanded skill sets, and opportunities or gaps to educational advancement. We recommend taking the steps below, including:

  • Consult existing state standards, post-secondary requirements, and student pathway data:
    • Consult current state or local standards in math, science, and other K–12 subjects, and identify where data-related content can service or enrich existing requirements.
    • Consult any forthcoming state or local standards in math, science, and other K–12 subjects, and identify where data-related content can service or enrich new requirements.
    • Consult admission requirements for local institutes of higher education (IHEs), focusing on where students most often matriculate:
      • Review math, science, or other credit requirements for college admissions.
      • Contact admissions officers at local IHEs.
      • Contact your school or district's guidance counselors.
    • Review school or district assessment data to identify areas where students are performing below grade level, especially in STEM subjects like math or science, to identify points of intervention.

    Meaningfully engage stakeholders:

    • If using ARP funds, have you talked to the following Stakeholders as required by the American Rescue Plan using focus groups, surveys, advisory boards or other means?
      • Students, families, and caregivers
      • Teachers, other educators, school staff, principals, and other school leaders
      • Advocacy organizations, including those representing the interests of children with disabilities, English learners, children experiencing homelessness, children in foster care, migratory students, and children are involved with the juvenile justice system
      • Other community based organizations, such as youth development organizations, STEM Learning Ecosystems, cradle to career networks like Strive Together affiliates and other place-based initiatives.
      • School and district administrators, including superintendents
      • Charter school leaders, if applicable
      • Education organizations and advocacy groups, including teacher and staff unions
      • Community and elected leaders, including tribal leaders, school boards, and leaders representing business and industry
      • Other potential partners, including other community-based organizations, university faculty and staff, and faith communities

    Seek systematic alignment with postsecondary pathways:

    • Review postsecondary pathways available to your students, using any data on student matriculation, input from guidance counselors, and other stakeholder engagement. Examples may include:
      • 4-year Colleges or Universities
      • 2-year Community Colleges
      • Apprenticeships or other Work-Based Learning Programs
      • Local Employers (small and large)
      • Federal, state, or local government, including the Armed Forces
    • Create a working group, advisory board, or otherwise consult a diverse sample of representatives from each pathway to identify gaps, make them aware of your proposed changes, and seek aligned credit opportunities (e.g. recognized credentials, dual-enrollment, coursework credit, etc.). Examples may include:
      • Department leaders in Statistics, Computer Science, and/or Mathematics
      • Provost or other academic directors
      • Admissions officers and/or directors
      • Student academic advisors
      • Employer Human Resources officers and/or directors
      • Nonprofit or Educational Program directors
      • Community programs (e. g. AmeriCorps, TeachForAmerica, etc.)
    • Collaboratively identify opportunities to create more equitable and modern post-secondary pathways through the intervention or pilot

    Consider piloting first, and design with iterative goals in mind:

    • Consider testing your course or other intervention with a small number of students — testing first will help identify remaining gaps, unanticipated issues, or other resources that may be needed.
    • Consider your pilot as a mechanism to demonstrate promise and build confidence with educators, parents, and other stakeholders, and as an opportunity to improve for future school years.
    • Design your pilot with specific goals in mind — identify an attribute or set of attributes to test, demonstrate your intervention with either a representative sample or a targeted of your student population, or focus on identifying challenges for a particular issue of interest that will aid with future improvement or scaling.

    Prioritize relevant outcomes to focus your program over time:

    • List all possible outcome goals identified through stakeholder engagement, collaboration with post-secondary programs, and student data review.
    • Consider other potential outcomes that have been trialed in comparable data science programs
    • Prioritize and select one or more outcomes for focus of your intervention based on local priorities and locally in-demand skillsets.