E.D. Urged To Revamp N.C.E.S. To Create 'Information System'

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WASHINGTON--The Education Department should expand and revamp its statistics branch to create an "education-information system" that would focus on six broad issues, a Congressionally mandated panel concludes in its final report.

The report by the Special Study Panel on Education Indicators, a group of educators, academics, and analysts, argues that a simple report card consisting of a few indicators on the state of the nation's education system is misguided.

Rather, it states, the education-information system should be comprehensive, and should be organized around "enduring issues" of educational importance. These include: learner outcomes, the quality of educational institutions, children's readiness for school, societal support for learning, education and economic productivity, and equity.

A New Model

The report also calls for the development of new measures, including an early-childhood assessment that would provide information on the capabilities of 3- and 6-year-olds.

Alan D. Morgan, superintendent of public instruction in New Mexico and chairman of the panel, said the proposed system would be broader and longer-lasting than the annual reports on the national education goals, the first of which was to be released this week. (See related story, page 1 .)

"To try to create a report card that focuses only on the goals is shortsighted," Mr. Morgan said. What the panel is recommending, he said, is "an indicator system of enduring values-what we care about as a country in the education process."

In calling for a restructuring of education information, the study panel rejected the traditional method of measuring inputs, the education process, and education outcomes.

Such a model "presumes schools are parallel to factories. They are not," Mr. Morgan said.

The panel also recommends that the National Center for Education Statistics shift its data-collection and reporting systems to focus on the six issue areas. The agency should produce biennial interpretative reports on each area, it proposes.

In addition, the panel urges that the Education Department and the Congress expand and upgrade the N.C.E.s. to enable it to make such shifts.

Copies of the panel's report, "Education Counts: An Indicator System To Monitor the Nation's Education Health," are available for $6.50 each from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 204029325. The stock number is 065-00000463-1.

Vol. 11, Issue 05, Page 24

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