chapter  4
18 Pages

The Role of Private Firms in Data-Based Decision Making

ByPatricia Burch, Tracy Hayes

Since the adoption of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the 2001 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the work of schools has been focused increasingly on the collection of data and the use of the data in informing policy decisions (U.S. Department of Education, 2001). Although significant numbers of large, urban districts are purchasing testing goods and services (as suggested by the survey data reported in a subsequent section of this chapter) there is virtually no scholarly research on their use or impact. There are case studies provided by vendors themselves, which are available on their Web sites, but most of these do not appear to be based on systematic, rigorous research. There is a nascent and insightful scholarship conducted by a handful of academics seeking to understand how these systems are being used (Halverson, Pritchett, Grigg, & Thomas, 2005; Mandinach, Rivas, Light, & Heinze, 2006). However, these studies are isolated examples.