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GCS Wins Excellence in Education Data Award for COVID Response

Greensboro, N.C. – Guilford County Schools’ quick, and targeted response to the COVID-19 pandemic is receiving national praise.

Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research – Strategic Data Project awarded GCS and the Accountability, Research and Planning division with the 2021 Strategic Data Project Excellence in Education Data Award. The award honors excellence in using data and evidence “to solve big thorny problems, produce high impact data tools or analyses, or transform data culture into education,” according to the Strategic Data Project website.

This year, the project singled out GCS’ use of data to respond to the historical and unexpected challenges districts across the country faced during the pandemic.

“As I said to my team at the time, we had to take 385 years of public education and turn it upside down in a matter of days, and we did not take that responsibility lightly,” said GCS Superintendent Sharon L. Contreras. “Our team pulled together, and we gathered the necessary data and information to take quick and effective actions in response to the crisis. I am honored by this recognition, and grateful to my team who continue to work tirelessly for our students.”

GCS used data, analytic expertise and evaluation tools to provide students and families with equitable access to resources they needed for remote learning, including devices, internet hotspots, nutrition and more.

GCS also used data to identify students at-risk of falling behind, so educators and staff could reach out and work to keep those students engaged, strengthen resources and identify additional barriers that needed to be addressed.

“We conferred the Strategic Data Excellence Award to Guilford County School’s Office of Accountability, Research, and Planning because of their strategic use of research, data analysis, visualizations and mapping throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Miriam Greenberg, director of the Strategic Data Project. “From using novel data sources about student inactivity online to understand remote student engagement to using census data to identify areas without internet access, their great work led to the development of programs, policies and practices that ensure all students had the resources they needed to stay connected to schools and engage in learning.”