Policy by the Numbers
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Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Data is the most powerful tool we have available to change American public policy. If feedback from the bathroom scale has ever changed what you decided to eat that day, you’ve experienced the power of data changing behavior. What’s true for us personally is also true of complex systems. Data can shift awareness leading to changing entrenched public policy.
America’s leading social entrepreneurs are using data to create awareness that will lead to lasting social change. A great example is
, a program that helps low income students transition successfully from high school to college and career. They educate students on the importance of going to college and the process for getting there. In 2005, College Summit’s founder,
, faced a dilemma: he could grow his program school by school, “selling” it to thoughtful superintendents, or he could look for a larger, systematic change that could shift the entire education system. He decided to take on systems change.
Schramm concluded that states first need to know how many of their high school students are going to college. Without data to measure the success or failure of U.S. schools to get their students into college, the problem went unaddressed. The hope was to use data as a proof point, raise awareness and create concrete policy changes.
The strategy has paid off. Over the last decade, College Summit has succeeded in shifting most major education bills, regulations and waivers toward requiring high schools to measure the number of students that went to college after graduating. In 2000, no states provided comprehensive data measuring students going to college. Today, working in conjunction with the leading U.S. education data consortium,
The Data Quality Campaign
thirty six states
have the essential data.
For the first time, Americans are getting hard data on the success or failure of our public schools’ ability to get kids into college. As hoped for, once there was proof in numbers, awareness went up and parents began demanding that schools do a better job of getting their kids into college.
College Summit is experiencing the change, too. Instead of banging on the doors of local schools to “sell” their training, schools concerned about their fail rates are calling College Summit to help them. The result: many more young people who would have never considered college are now enrolling in higher ed.
Instead of addressing the symptoms of education failure,
College Summit changed the education system
by using data to create awareness. To change the world, we need to change the rules. Data is the best lever we can use to begin the awareness process.
, Founder of
1 comment :
The role of data can
t be overestimated
August 16, 2012 at 9:00 AM
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