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Across the country hundreds of data scientists and analysts are working for thousands of education agencies trying to help schools, school leaders, and education systems as a whole function more effectively. The work they do is critical to everything from scheduling classes and evaluating programs, to managing enrollments, strategic planning, and making the laws that shape our public education infrastructure at large.
This book is for them. For their work. For the struggle.
Lots of pundits and researchers have ideas about how education data work should be done and who should do it. Many of their ideas are disseminated widely. But, there are far fewer places for education analysts themselves to share their ideas, to describe their challenges, or to cover their efforts to do good science in the everyday.
We wanted to bring the voices and the work these folks do to the forefront, so others among them could learn from the hard fought advances they’ve made and that benefit us all.
This book is by folks who’ve been agency analysts for folks who are agency analysts.
And we hope it is just the beginning.
You. Yes, you there. Isn’t it exciting? You are sitting down at your desk at your new job as an education data analyst. You’ve been trained in so many statistical methods, you’re a wizard with R or Stata, you can adjust standard errors with the best of them – you’ve got this. Plus, now that you are working at an education agency you don’t have to sift through a tedious IRB and data request process – you can get started right away doing powerful analyses that will improve the decision making of your agency.
As you turn on the computer and drink your coffee, you are filled with anticipation. You’ve already requested all of the longitudinal assessment data from IT so you can get a jump start. You open your email, eager to download the data and get started, but instead you see:
“About that request for data – we’ll need you to be part of a data governance discussion with us. The attached data includes a number of shifting definitions and cannot be used for year to year comparisons at this time.”
Data what? Definitions? The field names are all the same, so what’s the problem here? You take a deep breath and Google “Education data governance” and now, you’re here.
We’ve all been there.
Let’s talk about what comes next.