Strategic Data Project

Strategic Data Project Launches 2020-2022 Cohort of Fellows for Educational Improvement 

October 13, 2020

Data and evidence leaders work together to close gaps for students and educators. 

Cambridge, Mass. (October 13, 2020)—The Strategic Data Project (SDP), an initiative of the Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) at Harvard University, launched its twelfth cohort of SDP fellows, exemplary research and data leaders helping to transform education through the power of evidence....

Read more about Strategic Data Project Launches 2020-2022 Cohort of Fellows for Educational Improvement 
Joseph Clark McIntyre

Joseph Clark McIntyre

SDP Fellowship Faculty Advisor
Lecturer on Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education
David Liebowitz

David Liebowitz

SDP Fellowship Faculty Advisor
Assistant Professor of Education Methodology, Policy and Leadership
University of Oregon
Doug Harris

Doug Harris

SDP Fellowship Faculty Advisor
Director, Education Research Alliance for New Orleans
Professor of Economics, Tulane University; Schlieder Foundation Chair in Public Education, Tulane University
Michael Grady

Michael Grady

SDP Fellowship Faculty Advisor
Assistant Professor of the Practice in Education, Brown University
Celia Gomez

Celia Gomez

SDP Fellowship Faculty Advisor
Codirector, Center for Qualitative and Mixed Methods
Associate Policy Research, Faculty Member, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Caitlin Farrell

Caitlin Farrell

SDP Fellowship Faculty Advisor
Associate Research Professor, Learning Sciences & Human Development, University of Colorado Boulder
Director, National Center for Research in Policy and Practice
Sarah Cohodes

Sarah Cohodes

SDP Fellowship Faculty Advisor
Associate Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University
Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research
Vincent Cho

Vincent Cho

SDP Fellowship Faculty Advisor
Associate Professor, Educational Leadership & Higher Education
Boston College
Alex Bowers

Alex Bowers

SDP Fellowship Faculty Advisor
Associate Professor of Educational Leadership
Teachers College, Columbia
Brooks Bowden

Brooks Bowden

SDP Fellowship Faculty Advisor
Assistant Professor in the Education Policy Division, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania
Director of Training, Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University
Laura Booker

Laura Booker

SDP Fellowship Faculty Advisor
Senior Lecturer, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Peabody College, Vanderbuilt
Project, S. D. (2020). Strategic Data Use in Higher Education: Using Data to Improve Postsecondary Success.Abstract

Like many other elements of the American economy, higher education is working to realize the potential of sophisticated data analytics to inform and transform how it operates. In August 2019, the Association for Institutional Research (AIR), EDUCAUSE (the association of campus information technology professionals), and the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) released a joint statement with the provocative title “Analytics can save higher education. Really.” Its purpose was to inspire a sense of urgency and provide direction for higher education leaders to harness data as a strategic organizational asset. The statement features the following rationale for investment in data analytics:

“We strongly believe that using data to better understand our students and our own operations paves the way to developing new, innovative approaches for improved student recruiting, better student outcomes, greater institutional efficiency and cost-containment, and much more.”

However, progress has been uneven, with some state higher education agencies, university and college systems, and individual institutions leading the way while many others struggle to adapt. Why?

The Strategic Data Project (SDP) at the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University has a ten-year track record of developing data capacity in state and local PK-12 agencies and organizations and interviewed 40 leaders and analysts at 29 institutions of higher education and postsecondary organizations to explore their data needs to understand why some colleges and university systems are excelling in using data and others have yet to fully realize the potential of their data to inform strategic decisions that transform student success in school and the workforce.

Our key finding is that the missing link is not in the technical infrastructure but in human capacity. If higher education is to take advantage of data analytics to improve student outcomes and increase organizational effectiveness, it will have to find better ways to attract, train, and retain strategic data professionals who can inform policy and practice.

Download the white paper.

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