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Lessons for Education, Learning from Health Care

March 31, 2010

Education Sector: Independent Analysis, Innovative Ideas

Dear Colleague,

In the Education Week commentary “Is Data the Cure-All?” out today, Education Sector’s Bill Tucker outlines lessons education policymakers can learn from the health care industry, particularly in the drive to utilize data to inform student outcomes.

From the commentary:

“[In education] with better data, policymakers can identify effective schools and educators, expose problems, make better decisions about the allocation of resources, and build political will for reform. At the classroom level, better data will inform instruction—enabling teachers to better understand what approaches work for specific students—and lead to better teaching and improved learning. And, as in health care, federal stimulus money—in this case $245 million—has been allocated for this purpose alone. This is on top of the billion-plus education dollars already spent building state longitudinal databases and districtwide data warehouses.

But what health reformers are learning is that using technology to transform a complex, fragmented, change-resistant, and costly system like health care—or education, for that matter—is not an easy task. More importantly, they’ve learned that electronic data systems will not improve health care, education, or any field on their own. Health reformers also understand that the nation’s investments in data systems will be for naught unless they lead to meaningful improvements in outcomes. As education accelerates its drive to utilize data, there’s much to learn from health care. …” Read more from “Is Data the Cure-All?”

Also read Tucker’s “Five Design Principles for Smarter Data Systems,” as well as Education Sector’s related blog series on smarter data systems. Written by a diverse group of experts—Vincent Cho of UT–Austin, Heather Weiss of Harvard Family Research Project, Ben Boer of Advance Illinois, Norton Gusky of Fox Chapel School District (Pa.), Laurence Holt of Wireless Generation, Lori Fey of the Dell Foundation, and Arthur VanderVeen of New York City Department of Education—the series discusses the five design principals of building “smart” data systems, and the challenges and best practices of using better information about teaching and learning to improve outcomes for every student. Read full posts from our “Smarter Data Systems” blog series.

Education Sector is an independent think tank that challenges conventional thinking in education policy. We are a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to achieving measurable impact in education, both by improving existing reform initiatives and by developing new, innovative solutions to our nation’s most pressing education problems. Learn more about our work

Education Sector
1201 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 850
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202.552.2840 – Fax: 202.775.5877

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