Data has become ubiquitous in everyday life. Evaluating, analyzing, and communicating with data are now essential skills in every industry. However, demand for workers with data skills has been outpacing supply, and employers across the United States report that data science and analytics jobs are some of the most difficult to fill. K–12 schools need to play a larger role in helping individuals develop data skills to help them thrive in today’s technology- and information-based society.

The Data Paths project, funded by the state of Massachusetts, is working to help K–12 schools provide all students, especially those from historically marginalized groups, with opportunities to gain fundamental data literacy skills that are needed in the workforce and in civic life today. The project also seeks to foster greater understanding of data careers and to inspire more students from diverse backgrounds to pursue these careers. To achieve these goals, Data Paths is developing resources and professional learning opportunities to help K–12 educators in Massachusetts integrate data practices and career information into existing curricula.

Key Activities

Over three years, the Data Paths team—including over a dozen EDC instructional designers, researchers, and staff developers—will collaborate with teachers and students from across Massachusetts to develop, test, and refine the following resources:

  • The Data Literacy Crosswalk and Standards Guide to help K–12 STEM educators integrate important data practices into classes as they address learning standards in their discipline
  • The Data Science Curriculum Guide to give educators information on data science curriculum materials available for K–12 education
  • Model curriculum units that give students opportunities to investigate compelling questions with real-world datasets in high school biology, chemistry, and physics classes and middle school mathematics classes
  • Instructional tools and routines to help elementary and middle school mathematics educators incorporate data practices into their teaching throughout the school year
  • Professional learning workshops to support educators in using the project’s instructional and curriculum resources
  • The Compendium of Data Science Certificate and Degree Programs in Massachusetts for secondary and postsecondary students seeking skills and credentials for data careers
  • Profiles of data scientists from diverse backgrounds and in a variety of fields to help students learn about and envision possible futures in data careers


  • The project plans to provide at least 80 elementary, middle, and high school teachers in Massachusetts with professional development to develop, help refine, and implement the project’s curriculum materials.
  • At least 1,700 students in elementary, middle, and high school grades throughout Massachusetts will gain experience analyzing large-scale real-world data.
  • Findings from project research will provide insights into the promise of the project’s resources and strategies to improve students’ data skills and interests in data careers for diverse student populations within Massachusetts and potentially beyond.

Learn More

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education