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Revolutionizing Education: Alabama's Data Literacy Leap

The Alabama State Department of Education partnered with QuantHub in order to bring data literacy education to public schools across the state.

A student using QuantHub in their math class.

By fostering a trailblazing partnership between the Alabama State Department of Education and QuantHub, the state of Alabama is setting a new standard for educational innovation. This collaboration aims to tackle one of the most pressing challenges of 21st-century education: equipping students with the data science skills essential for success in a data-driven world. By proactively equipping K-12 students with essential data skills, Alabama is not only meeting the growing workforce demand for data expertise but also strategically preparing its youth for future success. This initiative approach to education underscores a commitment to not only advancing the state’s educational capabilities but also ensuring its students are poised to thrive in the global digital economy.

Pioneering Data Literacy in Alabama Schools

QuantHub was born from a simple realization about the workforce in Alabama: the gap between the demand for skilled data professionals and the available talent pool was widening. This realization dawned on Joshua Jones, founder of data science strategy firm Strategy Wise, while collaborating with leading companies such as Chick-fil-A and Samsung that were increasingly requiring data literacy skills across roles and responsibilities. To tackle this divide, Jones and data scientist Nathan Black co-founded QuantHub and began creating hiring assessments to streamline the recruitment process for data-centric roles.

 Soon after creating these hiring assessments, QuantHub’s customers began asking for a way to not only assess employees’ knowledge of data science skills but also to train them. Noticeable skill gaps were exposed, highlighting the need for a personalized upskilling solution for all employees— from maintenance workers to executives. Here, QuantHub gained another key insight: improving data literacy statewide should begin much earlier, in K-12 education.

Josh Jones, QuantHub CEO, delivers a presentation on AI at the Alabama Science Teacher Association Conference

In collaboration with the Alabama State Department of Education, QuantHub initiated a pilot Data Literacy Program in 16 schools during the 2022–2023 academic year, focusing on diverse representation across each region of the state. Implementing this program across the state highlighted a unique set of opportunities present at many of Alabama’s schools, from rapid content development to interdisciplinary teaching methods. Alabama State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey explained: 

“By integrating QuantHub’s advanced training software into our educational framework, we are not only preparing our students for the future of work but also ensuring that Alabama remains competitive in the rapidly evolving digital economy.”

The initial pilot of the QuantHub Data Literacy program also unveiled one more striking insight: it wasn’t just about introducing students to the basics of data science but showing them how these skills could be applied in their future careers. Participation in the Data Literacy program sparked a passion for data science in many students, driving them to consider pursuing careers in the growing field.

Data Literacy Across the Curriculum

Schools across Alabama have taken a variety of approaches to integrating QuantHub’s Data Literacy program, utilizing it in math, science, and CTE courses as well as intervention courses. The positive reception from science departments and the alignment with ACT Science standards illustrate the program’s success in integrating data science into the curriculum in a meaningfully way that helps students succeed in standardized assessments. As science teacher Brianna Davis states,

“It has been easy to have my students master one skill a week, and I really appreciate that it is mapped so specifically to the ACT standards. I know my students are learning things that will help them on tests and in real life.”

Math teachers utilize QuantHub to help address data analysis and statistics standards. As math teacher Vincent Nuckols explains,

“QuantHub exposes students to worthwhile information. Nothing else provides the contextualization of statistics like this. It helps students to know how to think about data.”

Midfield High School and Bessemer High School have seamlessly woven data science into their career technical courses, focusing on equipping students for a future in the AI-enhanced workforce. These students dive into the ethical dimensions of AI and master data wrangling techniques, empowering them to harness the vast expanse of available workplace data. This training prepares them to create value both for themselves and their prospective employers, setting a strong foundation for their careers.

“QuantHub has had a great impact on our students. It has helped them to be more innovative and more ready for whatever the world has to offer.”

Accessible Insights

Accessibility has always been a cornerstone of QuantHub’s approach to K-12 education. From initiatives designed to make the platform screen reader and keyboard accessible (adhering to both the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Level A and Level AA standards) to the inclusion of language support, particularly for ESL students, QuantHub is committed to inclusivity, ensuring that language barriers don’t hinder students’ access to education.

“Language support is a critical factor in shaping the learning experiences of English as a Second Language (ESL) students regarding educational software. A well-designed software that provides clear instructions, explanations, and content in a language that ESL students can easily understand can help them engage more effectively. Additionally, this type of software that adapts to the individual needs of the student and places them at their proficiency level, making it even more helpful.”
-Maria Franco, Education Specialist, Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative

QuantHub also provides adaptive instruction with personalized competency-based instruction. High school student David Robinson highlights how important this particular function was to his learning experience:

“I’m a slow learner and the pace of my teachers doesn’t give me the time to learn the material. [QuantHub] was super easy for me, I just jumped right in. The ‘Study Activity’ button is really helpful when I don’t know the answer to a question.”

David’s experience underscores the significance of adaptive instruction in empowering students to excel. By catering to students’ unique strengths and challenges, educational platforms like QuantHub foster a more inclusive learning environment where every student can reach their full potential. As the education community continues to champion accessibility, prioritizing initiatives that empower all learners, regardless of their backgrounds or abilities, becomes imperative.

Dr. Veronique Zimmerman-Brown running a professional development session for teachers in Selma, Alabama

Empowering Educators: The Key to Successful Implementation

A critical factor for determining the success of data science and data literacy programs in K-12 education is teacher professional development. Dr. Belinda Patton, Data Literacy Program Coordinator, emphasizes the importance of equipping teachers with the necessary skills and confidence to integrate these programs effectively into their classrooms:

“Teachers face constant demands and distractions. When they learn the skills themselves and become confident in the material, they see how easy it is for their students to learn and that it isn’t just another thing to try to squeeze into the day. They see how tailored learning really makes a difference and how data science skills are relevant for everyone.”

Collaborating with organizations like the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) has been instrumental in facilitating teacher professional development initiatives. By offering teachers the opportunity to earn significant professional development credits through partnerships with platforms like QuantHub, AMSTI has inspired more educators to embrace data science programs in the classroom. This collaboration not only equips teachers with the necessary skills but also empowers them to create engaging and relevant learning experiences for their students, ultimately fostering a data-literate generation poised for success in an increasingly data-driven world.

Ensuring Access to Data Science Education for All

The development and implementation of the Data Literacy Program across Alabama has come with its own challenges, from ongoing IT struggles to the complexities of weaving new technologies into educational frameworks. These challenges reflect the broader issues involved in bringing educational innovation to life, particularly in rural areas.

In Macon County’s rural Notasulga High School, battling limited internet and a shortage of reliable tech tools hasn’t stopped students from shining. QuantHub actively addressed these obstacles with a keen emphasis on making learning accessible and inclusive, underscoring its dedication to ensuring data science education reaches every student. 

Notasulga High School teacher Paulinnia Whitlow reported that many of her students had never been exposed to this particular kind of data science material before. One student reported, “I saw a lot of charts on the ACT exam and the platform helped me on the ACT WorkKeys.” Despite the initial technical obstacles, Notasulga’s students have excelled by mastering the data science skills offered through the Data Literacy program and are now armed with standout resumes.

Expansion and the Data Scholars Program

Building on this momentum, the Data Literacy in Alabama initiative set ambitious new goals to expand its reach to 2,000 teachers and 38,000 students across the state. This expansion was not just about spreading data science education more broadly, but also about deepening the impact on students’ readiness for the workforce. Thus, through a strategic partnership with Innovate Alabama, the QuantHub Alabama Data Scholars Internship Program was born. 

“We were thrilled to discover students demonstrating a profound interest and aptitude in data science, despite facing academic challenges in other areas. This inspired us to recruit our first cohort of summer interns, who furthered their education while gaining real-world experience.” 
QuantHub CEO, Joshua Jones

The QuantHub Alabama Data Scholars Internship Program places Alabama high school juniors and seniors into 8-week paid learning experiences at Alabama-based employers that use data in creative ways. The summer program offers interns hands-on experience with AI and data science as well as critical professional development. Participating interns and businesses also get the chance to shape the future of Alabama’s tech scene. This synergy between education and practical application exemplifies QuantHub’s comprehensive approach to preparing students for the challenges and opportunities of the technological future.

QuantHub champion student and Data Scholar, Kenya Gordon

Innovate Alabama CEO Cynthia Crutchfield captures the essence of this collaboration, stating: 

“Through our partnership with QuantHub, we are excited to offer Alabama’s youth hands-on experience with data science and AI, fields that are critical for the future of our state’s industries. We’re not only investing in the next generation of Alabamians but also sowing the seeds for a more innovative state economy.” 

These are just a few of the exciting projects Alabama Data Scholars will get the chance to work on in 2024:

  •  “Collect, clean, and visualize energy data published by the Energy Information Administration, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and other federal agencies. The student will help us curate information to help us better understand the operational characteristics of the current energy system and how it is changing to increasing clean energy.” -Daniel Tait, Executive Director of Energy Alabama

  •  “Support the data team in quality assurance of data during extraction from current platform to migrate into new internal data collection platform.” –Sarai Hernandez, Office Coordinator of Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama

  • “Analysis of sentiment data….some amazing things that move the needle in organizations that care for their employees and their development” -Dr. Timo Sandwritter, President of RippleWorx

  • “We are working on establishing an internal dashboard of our programmatic results in addition to a public facing dashboard with broader metrics. We would like this intern to work on both projects…which would include maintaining up-to-date data, improving presentations, developing communication strategies, and creating presentations that show not just the broad trends but specific trends.”–J.W. Carpenter, President of Prosper Foundation

One of the most unique features of the Data Scholars program is the opportunity it presents for students across Alabama, especially those in rural areas, to participate in virtual internships with forward-thinking companies. These internships offer hands-on experience with data projects, highlighting the program’s dedication not just to technological accessibility but also to making meaningful opportunities available to students in even the most remote locations. In 2024, 46% of applicants to the Data Scholars Program were from rural districts in Alabama.

Many students like high schooler Kenyale Moore from Saraland, Alabama, believe becoming a Data Scholar will ultimately help them achieve their career goals: 

“My dream job revolves around working with AI systems like ChatGPT or specializing in cybersecurity. However, I’m also open to exploring various fields within computer science as my interests are broad and evolving. Participating in the Data Scholars program can significantly contribute to achieving my aspirations. ”

QuantHub’s Vision for the Future

QuantHub is not only focused on providing data science education for K-12 students, they also want to showcase the tangible benefits of data skills for students’ future careers. To this end, they have partnered with the Alabama Talent Triad to ensure they are equipping students with the skills and credentials needed in the workforce in verifiable Learning and Employment Records (LER). QuantHub’s Upskill platform allows students to master skills at their own pace, demonstrating competency in high demand skills such as working with spreadsheets and sharing a machine learning model. QuantHub is also helping students register their data and AI certificates earned in a digital wallet. This enables students to build their resumes with relevant skills, bridging the gap between their education and career aspirations by aligning with the specific requirements of job postings.

Alabama’s endeavor to foster widespread data literacy and encourage STEM careers through initiatives like QuantHub’s is not just commendable; it’s a model for other states seeking a path to make data education more accessible for all. This journey of innovation, challenges, and opportunities highlights the transformative potential of data science in shaping the future workforce and driving state-wide innovation. As we look to the future, the QuantHub experience in Alabama serves as a compelling example of how targeted and holistic educational initiatives can lay the groundwork for a more informed, skilled, and competitive society. 

Are you a 7th-10th grade student currently enrolled in an Alabama middle or high school?

QuantHub is awarding scholarships up to $500 to talented 7th-10th grade students interested in attending a summer science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) camp or program hosted by an Alabama college or university. Scholarship winners will be selected by a panel of reviewers based on factors including: demonstrated interest in data-driven STEM careers, engagement in the QuantHub platform, academic excellence, and extracurricular involvement. Interested students can apply by May 1, 2024 here. 

Interested in finding out more about how your school or district can start implementing data science lessons in the classroom? Learn more about QuantHub and their services at

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