Conveying Our Stories - Displaying Our Data (2017)

Virtual Event

OSEP supports States and IDEA discretionary grant investments to improve results for children with disabilities and their families. Effectively sharing and communicating the positive outcomes of such efforts to meet the information needs of different audiences is often challenging. OSEP’s third symposium in the 2017 Symposia Series, “Conveying Our Stories--Displaying Our Data,” focused on how States, districts, and Part D-funded investments can develop engaging stories and effectively use data to improve communication strategies used with stakeholders, leadership, and decision makers. The symposium explored best practices and tips for more impactful and effective communication efforts.

Examples included: 

  1. Information on building an effective dissemination plan; and
  2. Using infographics and data visualization practices to communicate the meaning of data in a way that is accessible, accurate, and actionable for a variety of stakeholders.

Tips covered:

  1. Using social media to improve outreach, and
  2. Measuring success using analytic tools.

Archived Meeting Recording & Resources


Presenter Information


Symposium Prework

About Pre-Work

The following resources can be used to help States, districts, and Part D-funded investments improve communication with a variety of stakeholders. As part of our effort to create an engaging and meaningful event, we invite you to explore resources that are relevant to your work.

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This document contains resources that are provided for the user’s convenience. The inclusion of these materials is not intended to reflect its importance, nor is it intended to endorse any views expressed, or products or services offered. These materials may contain the views and recommendations of various subject matter experts as well as hypertext links, contact addresses and websites to information created and maintained by other public and private organizations. The opinions expressed in any of these materials do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the U.S. Department of Education. The U.S. Department of Education does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of any outside information included in these materials.


State Exemplars

Communication Toolkits and Tips

  • Strategies to Engage Stakeholders with Your Work
    This document provides engagement strategies that you may use to reach various audiences. The engagement strategies identified also provide an estimate of effort and cost.
  • Effectively Communicating Evaluation Findings
    This CIPP TA product is designed to help grantees effectively communicate information about project progress and results to a variety of audiences. The product includes a discussion of why grantees might want to communicate with a specific audience, and outlines key questions to ask when designing a communications plan for different audiences. It highlights some contextual factors that might influence communications with specific audiences, and presents a brief discussion of challenges and ethical considerations associated with communicating evaluation findings. It also provides an overview of common communication tools and products that have been found useful with specific audiences. Throughout, checklists and worksheets tailored to specific audiences are included to help staff think through how to create a plan to link evaluation data and communication strategies.
  • Communication Module Series
    This series of interactive, self-paced learning modules from the National Resource Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention can support a strategic approach to communication planning that is designed to enhance program success and sustainability.
  • HHS Office of Adolescent Health Strategic Communications Toolkit
    This learning module guides participants through the stages of developing a communication plan, and provides a template for creating a communication plan.
  • How Great Leaders Inspire Action
    Simon Sinek makes an argument for communicating the “why” in business vs. the how or what. Why are we collecting this data? Why do we do what we do?
  • Strategic Public Relations Plans are Essential for Business
    This short article makes an argument for why all companies should have a public relations plan.
  • Content Marketing for “Boring” Industries: 10 Tips for Creating Interesting Content
    This blog post offers tips for communicating “boring” information in an engaging manner.
  • What Work Media Project
    Results for America is helping decision-makers at all levels of government accelerate their use of evidence and data.

Data Visualization

DaSy Resources

  • Using the DaSy-NCSI Data Visualization Toolkit to Create Engaging and Effective Data Displays
    This session introduces the new DaSy-NCSI Data Visualization Toolkit. The toolkit identifies key design principles, data considerations, and accessibility concerns that need to be addressed to effectively present data, and identifies low cost/no cost data visualization tools.
  • Chart with Purpose
    In this first of three 30-minute data visualization talks, presenters defined data visualization and addressed five common pitfalls when creating charts: (1) Not clearly articulating your message; (2) Beginning with the visualization technique vs. the data; (3) Misrepresenting your data; (4) Being dull; and (5) Forgetting about accessibility.
  • Powerful Presentations
    The second of three 30 minute data visualization talks, this webinar focuses on effectively presenting data using animation and presentation tools. Presenters will walk the audience through the process of taking complex concepts and data and creating a fun, engaging animation and presentation.
  • Infographics for Impact
    The final of three 30 minute data visualization talks, this webinar focuses on how to effectively create and use infographics and answers 3 key questions: 1.) How can infographics be useful? 2.) What are some examples? 3.) What are tips for getting started?
  • Improving Programs through Data-Driven Decisions: The Journey from Critical Questions to Data Visualization
    This session provides states with a roadmap for identifying, organizing, and visually displaying the data elements needed to answer state prioritized questions. This process is demonstrated using the Center for Early Childhood IDEA Data Systems (DaSy) Critical Questions and the Common Education Data System (CEDS) Connect Tool. Through collaborative efforts, DaSy and CEDS are developing templates to identify the data elements needed to address critical question, provide suggested analyses, and give examples of tables or graphs for displaying the data.

IDC Resources

Data Quality Campaign (DQC) Resources

DQC is dedicated to building knowledge and developing resources that advance the effective use of education data. DQC’s website contains a variety of resources including the following:

Other Resources

  • Forum Guide to Data Visualization: A Resource for Education Agencies
    The purpose of this document is to recommend data visualization practices that will help education agencies communicate data meaning in visual formats that are accessible, accurate, and actionable for a wide range of education stakeholders.
  • Graphic Design for Researchers
    This guide offers a basic overview on how researchers can effectively use design to create engaging and visually appealing Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) products. It will cover some key concepts behind good design and discuss how to use basic elements like photographs, images, color, tables, figures, and type to create useful publications and digital products. The guide also touches on how researchers can use data visualization to make complex concepts accessible.
  •’s Crash Course in Infographics
    This crash course on infographics is itself presented as an infographic.
  • Center for Parent Information and Resources Webinar on Creating Infographics
    The webinar introduces infographics, why they are popular, and resources for creating your own infographics.

Family Engagement

Social Media Resources

​Examples of Effective Communication

Symposium Postwork

Thank you for your interest in the OSEP Symposia Series post-work. This event is now archived and the discussion board closed. If you were unable to attend the live events, you may view an archived version of the Symposium on Significant Disproportionality presentation and the Creating Safe, Supportive Learning Environments for Children with Disabilities presentation. 

Special Needs

Mobile Website

Lodging, Dining, Activities

Call for Proposals

Speaker Bios

Picture of Ruth Ryder

Ruth Ryder is the acting director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) at the U.S. Department of Education. OSERS provides leadership to achieve full integration and participation in society of people with disabilities by ensuring equal opportunity and access to, and excellence in, education, employment, and community living. OSEP assumes a national leadership role by supporting its customers and partners through technical assistance, personnel preparation, parent training, technology, data collection, data reporting and use, and monitoring and support.

Ms. Ryder has been in a variety of positions in OSEP since 1988, currently as the OSEP acting director. In this position, she provides national leadership for moving special education accountability to a more results-oriented focus. In addition, Ms. Ryder focuses attention on ensuring that the needs of children with disabilities are addressed in the major initiatives of the Department, such as the Every Student Succeeds Act, family engagement, school climate transformation, and early learning. 

Prior to joining OSEP, Ms. Ryder was a program administrator in a Washington State school district. There she had responsibility for an OSERS-funded special education demonstration project, examining integrated service delivery models for including children with disabilities in general education. She also administered the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Title I and Title II programs, State-remediation, gifted education, outcome-based education, and State- and district-wide testing programs.  Additionally, Ms. Ryder has been a special education consulting teacher and a general education classroom teacher. Ms. Ryder has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and elementary education and a master’s degree in special education.

Picture of Jane West

Jane West, Ph.D. is a visiting professor at the University of Maryland and policy advisor to several national education organizations, including the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (, the National Network of State Teacher of the Year  (, the Higher Education Consortium for Special Education ( and the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children  ( For eight years, she led AACTE’s advocacy and policy work as senior vice president. In the mid-1980s she worked as senior education advisor on the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions where she led the national effort to craft multiple federal education statutes. In addition, Dr. West is a former teacher and education administrator.

Focusing on bringing the voice of expert education practitioners into the national policy dialogue, Dr. West supports professionals – teacher educators, expert teachers, researchers, principals, doctoral students and others – in engaging in the policy making process by honing their message, supporting it with evidence, engaging at the right time during the process and building effective political alliances. 

Picture of Clement Coulston

Clement Coulston is a national presenter, curriculum developer and content organizer, and serves as the manager of communications and public relations at the National Association of School Psychologists. Mr. Coulston has consulted for the National Association of State Directors of Special Education to further its Leading by Convening work through utilizing infographics and social media. He offers workshops at the state, national, and international levels and specializes in stakeholder engagement, transition, advocacy, and inclusion. You can follow him on social media: @clementc26.

Picture of Todd Grindal

Todd Grindal, Ed.D. is a senior researcher and co-director of the early learning group at SRI. Dr. Grindal works with the Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems where he is leading a quasi-experimental study examining the associations between participation in early intervention services and kindergarten outcomes. Prior to joining SRI, Dr. Grindal led a range of evaluation and technical assistance projects. He led multi-year studies of the identification, placement, and performance of special education students in Massachusetts, Texas, and Ohio. These mixed method studies focused on how student, school, and community characteristics are associated with students’ participation in different types of educational programs such as charter schools, private schools, and inclusive public schools. In other recent work, Dr. Grindal directed a comprehensive review of the evidence on inclusive education and presented findings from this work at the United Nations. Dr. Grindal conducted his masters and doctoral work at the Harvard Graduate School of Education where he was awarded a Julius B. Richmond Fellowship by the Harvard Center on the Developing Child. Prior to beginning his doctoral studies, he worked for six years as a teacher and school administrator.

Picture of Kevin Hager

Kevin Hager is vice president and chief digital officer for the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) and serves as managing director for Understood. He leads strategy and operations across the Understood ecosystem to support parents of the one in five kids with learning and attention issues. Under Mr. Hager’s leadership, Understood has grown since its launch in October 2014 into an active online resource and community, reaching nearly 2 million visitors per month through personalized resources, tools, and expert access. His passion for learning and attention issue advocacy comes from his personal experience living with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Prior to Understood and NCLD, Mr. Hager served as development director at and managed the creation of the Center for Service Learning at the University of Kansas. He also worked in politics in press and campaign management roles.

Mr. Hager serves on the national advisory board for SXSWEdu, is secretary of the board of directors for the Dramatists Guild Fund and regularly speaks at conferences, including the World Economic Forum, on development strategies.

A picture of Kristen Kushiyama

Kristen Kushiyama, MBA, has served as a public affairs specialist with the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) since January 2017. Her primary role to date has been to coordinate the redevelopment of the Department’s Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) website. Prior to coming to the Department of Education, Kristen served as a public affairs specialist for one of the U.S. Army’s research, development and engineering centers. Kristen holds degrees in both communication with a public relations emphasis and dance from the University of Maryland, College Park and an MBA from Rutgers – the State University of New Jersey. 

Picture of Jill Lammert

Jill Lammert, Ph.D. is a research methodologist and Westat senior study director with 18 years of experience designing, conducting, and analyzing research to support education policy and practice. She has participated in the design and implementation of federal, State, and local evaluations of education programs and provided technical assistance (TA) in research and evaluation methodology to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) grantees, project evaluators, and OSEP staff, as well as grantees of the Department’s Investing in Innovation (i3) program. Dr. Lammert is currently co-director of the Center to Improve Program and Project Performance (CIPP), which is in its third iteration. In addition to her management responsibilities and her direct TA work, she has authored or contributed to the development of all of CIPP’s TA products, including, among others, Demonstrating Evidence Across the Project Cycle; Evaluating Special Education Programs: Resource Toolkit; Budgeting for Evaluation: Key Factors to Consider; Guidelines for Working with Third-Party Evaluators; Project Evaluation Assessment Tool; and Evaluating Special Education Preservice Programs Using Graduate and Student Outcomes: Resource Toolkit. Additionally, she is leading development of the IDEA Data Center’s tools and products related to significant disproportionality. Dr. Lammert has also developed and delivered trainings and webinars, including a training workshop for OSEP on measuring the fidelity of implementation for staff and grantees. Her interests include measurement of implementation fidelity and advanced qualitative and quantitative research methods. She is a What Works Clearinghouse-certified reviewer for group and single-case designs.