NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED505167
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
The New Stupid: Limitations of Data-Driven Education Reform. Education Outlook. No. 1
Hess, Frederick M.
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
A decade ago, it was disconcertingly easy to find education leaders who dismissed student achievement data and systematic research as having only limited utility when it came to improving schools or school systems. Today, we have come full circle. Educators have made great strides in using data, and it is hard to attend an education conference or read an education magazine without encountering broad claims for data-driven education reform. But danger lies ahead for those who misunderstand what data can and cannot do. Phrases such as "data-driven decision-making" and "research-based practice" can readily morph into convenient buzzwords that stand in for careful thought, obscure rather than clarify, serve as dressed-up rationales for the same old fads, or justify incoherent proposals. Because few educators today are inclined to denounce data, there has been an unfortunate tendency to embrace glib new solutions rather than ask the simple question: what exactly does it mean to use data or research to inform decisions? The new stupid has three key elements: (1) Using Data in Half-Baked Ways; (2) Translating Research Simplistically; and (3) Giving Short Shrift to Management Data. There are four keys to avoiding the new stupid. First, educators should be wary of allowing data or research to substitute for good judgment. Second, schools must actively seek out the kind of data they need as well as the achievement data external stakeholders need. Third, we must understand the limitations of research as well as its uses. Finally, school systems should reward education leaders and administrators for pursuing more efficient ways to deliver services. Research and data are powerful tools. Used thoughtfully, they are dynamic levers for improving schools and schooling. In this new era, educators stand to benefit enormously from advances in research and data systems. Let us take care that hubris, faddism, and untamed enthusiasm do not render these gifts more hindrance than help. (Contains 2 notes.)
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. 1150 Seventeenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-862-5800; Fax: 202-862-7177; Web site:
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research