Educational indicators : a guide for policymakers

by Jeannie Oakes

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Policymakers need to understand the uses and abuses of the education system's principal diagnostic tools--educational indicators. Those in positions to use indicators and pay for their collection must understand what the realistic information returns are from investing in them. This paper from the Center for Policy Research in Education is designed to help education decisionmakers understand the legitimate roles indicators might play in monitoring the condition of the educational system, tracking changes over time, and anticipating future change. It defines educational indicators, explains their principal applications, describes some of their limitations, and reviews the current state of the indicator art.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation occasional paper (education) series. The occasional paper series was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1985 to 1992. It included the occasional paper education (OPE) and occasional paper Soviet (OPS), which was issued jointly by the RAND/UCLA Center for Soviet Studies (CSS) to facilitate the exchange of ideas among those who shared the research interests of the Center and of scholars participating in its research and seminar programs.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.