The organization: Data Science 4 Everyone (DS4E) is a national initiative, coalition, and organization that seeks to prepare our nation’s youth to succeed in a world filled with information and data. The brainchild of Freakonomics author and University of Chicago professor Steve Levitt, the organization has experienced astronomical growth since 2019. Now with a full-time staff, diverse resources for educators, and a strong presence in events and media, DS4E is a key influencer creating education change.
The need: DS4E aimed to bolster committed communities at the local, state, and federal levels that could expand access to data science education for all students. Beyond growing a diverse, cross-sector community of data science advocates, DS4E knew a comprehensive policy agenda that advocated for policy change, but also enabled stakeholders at all levels, would be fundamental in achieving long-lasting change.
Our role: The Learning Agency partnered with DS4E from the organization’s inception and launch to build an effective coalition advancing data science education. As part of our collaboration, our team served as advisors while using our policy and education savvy to create and execute on a multi-pronged and impactful policy strategy.
Federal policy strategy: To create sustainable data science education change, DS4E knew they needed bipartisan support from federal policymakers. Our team created a policy strategy that capitalized on various mechanisms for change and leveraged them for greatest impact. At the federal level, wins include:
- Advocating for data science education in the Biden-Harris administration. We first supported the Data Science 4 Everyone coalition as they sent a letter to then President-Elect Biden on executive actions the Biden-Harris Administration could take to foster data science and literacy skills. To date, the Biden-Harris administration has created several STEM- and data science-focused programs, including the Raise the Bar: STEM Excellence for All Students Initiative, which includes a commitment from DS4E, and the Year of Open Science featuring a variety of data-related skill and workforce pipeline opportunities.
- Introducing first-of-its-kind data science education legislation. We also worked with DS4E to support the introduction of the Data Science and Literacy Act of 2023, which received bipartisan support. To spread the word about the legislation, DS4E partnered with the American Statistical Association in drafting an accompanying Letter of Support with 185+ signatures. The team publicized the letter to ensure it had broad support and organized office hours sessions on the bill to further educate the public about the positive impact of legislation like the Data Science and Literacy Act.
- Additional federal funding for data science education research and implementation. Our team assisted DS4E in advocating for additional funding and support for data science education. For example, data science education supporters across federal policy signed a 2021 oversight letter and appropriations letters in 2022 and 2023, which requested $60+ million in funding to advance data science education. Robust data science support led to an Institute of Education Sciences working group on catalyzing data science education in 2021, the U.S. Department of Education updating guidelines on how federal funding can be used for data science education in 2022, and additional National Science Foundation programs targeting data science skills.
State policy strategy: Paired with resources and advocacy at the federal level, state policy is fundamental to implementation of data science education in classrooms. At the state level, wins include:
- Cultivating state champions for data science education and customizing resources for targeted policy solutions. We have continuously supported state policy efforts by identifying state-level data science education champions who we could bolster for continued or future actions. We have also developed resources on implementation and key policy actions to better support leaders looking to engage with data science in their state.
- Fostering community among state-level actors to share best practices. DS4E has been instrumental in providing support and creating a community platform for state-level actors. For example, we worked with DS4E to convene key players across numerous states to share their experiences with implementation models and best practices for policy solutions. We have identified strong interest for state-level task forces to drive action within the community.
- Spurring commitments to action from five states. We partnered with DS4E to design and launch two large-scale Commitments Campaigns, collecting commitments to action from influencers across sectors, including policy, that expanded data science education and catalyzed change. In addition to the five states who committed to K-12 data science education, four large school districts similarly shared their commitments. Supporting state-level change via commitments to action has been part of an overall increase in states offering K-12 data science opportunities – since 2019, there has been an increase from two to fourteen states with data science education opportunities.
- Developing partnerships with local actors. DS4E has worked with several partners to garner support among state and local actors in a number of key states, including Indiana, Tennessee, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina. We further collaborated with state and local partners at major events, such as the National Summit on Education, where we worked together to spotlight data science education and bring more state- and local-level policymakers into the fold.