I’m Tamara Young and I am an associate professor in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis at North Carolina State University. I teach evaluation theory and practice to school principals, superintendents, and college and university administrators. Today, I am sharing a few hot tips I have surmised about future directions in evaluation based on trends in education.
1. States are developing data systems (e.g., North Carolina’s Home Base®) for schools that not only integrate different types of data (attendance, transcripts, student achievement scores, and teacher evaluation) that have traditionally been accessed through different software platforms, but also creating data warehouses that facilitate interagency—such as, school districts, human and health services, and juvenile justice—sharing of records (e.g., Stanford’s John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities Youth Data Archive and University of Pennsylvania’s Kids Integrated Data System). These integrated systems can allow evaluators to gather data on persons across time and agencies, allowing for the inclusion of a wider range of data on the state and conditions of the target and making longitudinal analysis, which was previously impeded because of bureaucratic constraints and costs, possible.
Rad Resource: Interesting ideas about the legal, ethical, and data quality issues associated with integrated data systems can be found at Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy.
2. Information and communication technology is becoming increasingly more pervasive and transforming who, what, when, where, and how we teach and students learn. Massive open online courses (MOOCs), game-based learning, online learning management systems, online assessments, virtual schools are becoming widespread. These and other technologies have built-in features that are rich sources of data. Evaluators need to become more familiar with how usage data and archived content can be used in evaluation.
3. In this era of increased accountability, increasing costs associated with higher education, concerns about student debt on the rise, and the massive budget cuts that many states and localities initiated during the recession and have kept during the recovery, educational institutions are increasingly concerned about not only about “what works” but also “how much.” As such, costs analysis, which was seldom done in the past, is increasingly being considered. Evaluators may want to develop a more sophisticated understanding of cost analysis and promote the creation of guidelines and principles for cost analysis for specific domains.
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