When data advocates promote evidence-based decision-making in education systems, they rarely specify who the intended users are, for what purpose, and what kinds of data are needed. The implicit assumption is: by everyone, for everything, and any data. But since collecting, processing, and communicating data require substantial resources, it is prudent to assess whether data produced are indeed accessible and valuable to key decision-makers.

In a new report, Brookings and AidData analyze the results of two unique surveys that asked education policymakers in low- and middle-income countries about their use of data in decision-making.

The report aims to help the global education community take stock of what information decision-makers actually use and offer practical recommendations to help those who fund and produce education data to be more responsive to what decision-makers want and need. We summarize the findings below:

  1. Having enough information is seldom the decisive factor in making most education decisions; instead, decision-makers desire to have sufficient government capacity.
  2. Education decision-makers use evidence to support the policymaking process, for both retrospective assessment and forward-looking activities
  3. Education decision-makers most often use national statistics from domestic sources and program evaluation data from international sources.
  4. Education decision-makers consider administrative data and program evaluations most essential, and want more of the latter, signaling a gap between need and supply.
  5. Education decision-makers value domestic data that reflect local context and point to policy actions, and improving the timeliness and accessibility of information will make it more helpful.
  6. Decision-makers strongly support strengthening their countries’ education management information system (EMIS) to bolster their education data ecosystem.

Read the full article about insights into data that education leaders want by Samantha Custer, Elizabeth M. King, Tamar Manuelyan Atinc, Lindsay Read, and Tanya Sethi at Brookings.