Enhancing Data Use and Quality to Shape Education Policy

Introduction

In This Issue
SEDL investigated state education data in four states to determine whether research can be conducted to find answers to education resource and student performance policy questions. This issue highlights study findings that policymakers will find informative in their efforts to meet standards and use data effectively.

What should we spend on students to ensure they succeed? Who should teach our children to help them achieve? How should we allocate these monetary and staffing resources to be effective?

These questions are basic to providing children a good education. Answering them, however, is not that easy, especially as education policymakers rely more on data to make instructional changes needed to improve student performance. The data must be accessible, of high quality, and easily understood. They must also be broad enough in scope to respond to the diversity of instructional policy issues, yet have ample detail to accurately answer specific questions.

Can policymakers rely on existing state education databases to find the answers they need? This was the focus of a new study conducted by Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL).

Our results reveal an important message for state policymakers: state education databases are critical but underutilized to inform and support policy decision making and research. Further, the quality of the data necessitates that states make ongoing improvements.

This issue of Insights features what we discovered about existing state education data, guidance for policy audiences about the instructional resource allocation questions that can and cannot be answered with existing data, and our recommendations for state data system reform.

Image of two office workers looking at a computer screen displaying a chart.


Next Page: State Education Data System Development

Published in Insights on Educational Policy, Practice, and Research Number 18, December 2005, Enhancing Data Use and Quality to Shape Education Policy