Friday, July 07, 2006

Not a simple story, but evaluators have to love this headline

"State hurting education by not funding data collection"

Hewlitt Foundation Education Program Director Marshall (Mike) Smith and Hewlitt Program Manger Kristi Kimball have some fairly strong words for the legislature's failure to provide adequate funding for the collection of high quality district data. This is one of the problems with which every state in the nation needs to grapple. The siloed organizational structures of school districts and state educational agencies are a manifestation of the compartmentalization of funding and accountability from both state and federal agencies. Decades of developing stove pipe reporting capacities are fundamentally inadequate for the task of addressing questions about "what works" in education. The effectiveness of complex social phenomena, such as effective educational practices for particular communities, are difficult to measure under the best of circumstances. In education we have data systems designed for different purposes and staff who have always been rewarded for hoarding data and reporting up - not using the data.

The inability of state systems to address "bang for the buck" questions continues to stymie legislatures. After years of building state and district capacity, California seems to have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.


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