Politics of Educational Data Collection

by Paul T. Hill

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This paper reviews the factors that lead state and local education officials to resist federal data-collection efforts or provide low-quality responses: (1) administrative burden; (2) the appearance of federal presumptuousness; and (3) the desire to avoid enforcement actions or embarrassment. It then identifies some federal government actions that might make it easier for state and local jurisdictions to understand and cooperate with national data collection programs: (1) reduce administrative burden by using more sample surveys rather than universal surveys; (2) make greater use of independent contractors to collect data; (3) report study results to participating agencies in a form they will find useful; (4) enlist the support of members of Congress; and (5) deal with chief state school officers individually, rather than in groups.

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