NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Data and Statistics Could Help Improve Education

March 23, 2015

American Enterprise Institute's Frederick Hess and Results for America's Bethany Little recently took a "moneyball" approach — using data and statistics — and applied it to education. They suggest the federal government can improve policies and programs as well as spend funds more effectively and efficiently.

Their recommendations include:

  • Developing solid, trusted metrics to improve federal programs;

  • Devote a portion of funds to evaluating programs and to building states' and local decision makers capacity to learn what works;

  • Ensure the use of a trusted entity and process in program evaluation;

  • Produce meaningful spending data that supports cost-benefit analysis;

  • Make education programs more evidence based;

  • Explore innovative approaches to boosting program outcomes and performance;

  • And, establish pilot projects that emphasize data-driven, evidence-based continuous improvement.

Where the federal government can usefully contribute, though, is by helping nurture the ecology of information, institutions and incentives that will make it easier for educators to lead the way. Their recommendations are proffered in the hope that they will do just that.

These specific activities are consistent with a limited federal role and the distinctive responsibilities of the federal government. Congress can also enable and support state officials and local educators to make informed decisions about effective programs and practices.

Source: Frederick M. Hess and Bethany Little, "Moneyball for Education," American Enterprise Institute, March 2015.


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