Data Literacy Credential Empowers an experienced Head Start manager

The Academy at NHSA is your home for professional development. You are invited and encouraged to join an upcoming cohort of the Data Literacy Credential (DLC). Designed specifically for Head Start and Early Head Start managers and directors, the DLC makes data interesting, fun, and positive again.

In the world of Head Start and Early Head Start, the word “data” often elicits negative reactions. There’s no getting around it.

For many Head Start professionals, when we’re discussing data, the exchange looks and feels like this:

  • I say “data”
  • They instantly imagine all the mandatory things they have to do at work
  • They experience negative feelings

That all happens really quickly—sort of a knee-jerk reaction.

This is much the same as thinking of art or public speaking. I say “art” and people imagine other people looking at their final product and judging it (“that’s beautiful!” or “my kid could do better!”). I say “public speaking” and a large percentage of people break out with hives, immediately picturing standing on a large stage under a glaring spotlight in front of a packed auditorium.

Some people will read those examples and not really resonate with them. But many, many will. For example, immediate reactions to the PIR. Performance Standards. DRS. 45-Day Mandates. Data Tours. FA2. You name it!

And here’s the thing: data doesn’t have to be this way. No one deserves a better relationship with data than Head Start and Early Head Start professionals. That’s why NHSA is encouraging Head Start and Early Head Start managers and directors to join an upcoming cohort of the Data Literacy Credential (DLC).

One of our recent graduates, Keri Young, an experienced Head Start manager and director and former regional T&TA provider, described her experience positively:

“I recently completed the Data Literacy Credential and loved it! I have been working in Head Start for almost 20 years and I have been working extensively with data for much of that time, but I am learning so much. I would say it spans across various levels of data literacy including beginning, intermediate, and advanced and really helps you think about data from a systemic approach. If you are just beginning using data it helps you think about how you would build your workflows and tell your story. For intermediate learners, it helps you look at what you are doing and identify ways to improve your systems. For an advanced learner, it steeps you in the language, and how to really effectively analyze and use data to help make informed decisions.”

Keri nailed it. The right data content for everyone. A positive image in one’s head.

Launched two years ago and with hundreds of your fellow managers and directors already seeing the benefits for their programs, the DLC has been a smashing success. Learners earn their DLC by completing three five-week courses, offered through a flipped-classroom model (participants complete coursework on their own outside of class, then meet twice a week for one hour on Zoom for group activities and discussion). They also complete portfolio assignments that offer immediate impact back at their programs.

As leaders, teachers, and facilitators, we’ve learned as much from our DLC participants they’ve learned from us. We’ve been able to implement our own data-driven continuous quality improvement by surveying and listening to our students, integrating their valuable feedback into our coursework, and adding opportunities and new content as necessary. If you are a manager or director who is responsible for data in your program, and any of the above resonated with you, I hope you will consider joining us. Perhaps when we meet and I say “data,” the image that will appear in your head is a smile.

Victoria Jones

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