Edunomics Lab For Chamber Foundation 2 24
October 16, 2023
How Public Education Can Use Productivity Metrics to Drive Continuous Improvement
In contrast to most other sectors, education systems rarely monitor progress using productivity metrics. Because education is so bound by routine, we believe the system needs an external stimulus to shift standard operating procedures such that leaders use productivity data as they are making spending decisions. We propose a set of policies designed to disrupt business-as-usual routines in school districts (like developing and passing an annual district budget) by getting leaders to use productivity data—that is, data that pairs spending with existing data on outcomes at each school. Doing so would prompt the system to seek ways to leverage every dollar to drive measurable improvements for students.
Once the spending and outcomes metrics are used in budgeting, it makes sense to engage all levels of the system (schools, districts, states) in using them in a continuous improvement process. Research tells us that how districts spend their money explains very little of the variation in student outcomes. Rather, what seems to matter more are the motivations of those leading these systems and working with students. As such, the productivity lens has the power to shape behavior, enabling teachers, principals, parents and students to do their part to drive improvement. Cultivating a productivity mindset inside the system makes productivity an orienting principle that can be opportunistically embedded in existing policies and practices that could use new insights on what investments are—and are not—delivering results for students. In our view, the future of data in K-12 education is all about getting people to use it.