Sunday, December 10, 2006

Data Quality Campaign a good idea, but....

The Data Quality Campaign has done a good job highlighting the work of groups who have been working on the issues of data use in school improvement for years. The DQC has been helpful in that it both focused these (and other affiliated and similarly-minded groups) on a series of core metrics for measuring state-level progress in system building. The dilemma here is that except for the those states that provide school information systems to all schools from a central source, most of the data is annual accountability information and is almost irrelevant for local decision making at the school or classroom level. The data needed by states for accountability and monitoring is good for studying the impact of programs and policies, but lacks the real time and frequent needs of building level staff for planning lessons and addressing gaps in students' knowledge.

The way that these efforts may benefit student and teachers is the university requirements for student and teacher ID numbers and the application of modern information management principles and technologies to the education sector. The demand for more granular, high-quality data by state education agencies from local districts has provided much better direction to district research and IT staff as well as to vendors of systems at these levels. The real changes in data-informed decision making will take place as districts and schools have access to better training and tools for data use. The DQC can take some credit for raising the visibility of these issues.


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