AERA Acts to Strengthen Federal Statistics and Resources
AERA Acts to Strengthen Federal Statistics and Resources

August 2018

Over the past month, AERA has advocated for important statistical resources for the broader education and science communities. These actions aim to ensure the accuracy and quality of data and education research, as well as bolster infrastructure for evidence-based policymaking.

Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset

AERA provided comments in response to a request from the Commerce Department as it begins work with several federal stakeholders on one of the cross-agency priorities of the President’s Management Agenda, Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset. Under this priority, federal agencies are seeking to develop a strategy to leverage federal statistics and provide data that are accessible to the public, including researchers.  

AERA included recommendations for the four parts of the proposed federal data strategy to bolster management; access; use for decision-making and accountability; and commercialization, innovation, and public use.

2020 Decennial Census

AERA urged the removal of the citizenship question in the 2020 Decennial Census in a letter sent to the Department of Commerce on July 31. In the letter, AERA raised concerns regarding the potential additional cost of adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The citizenship question was not tested to see the potential impact on response before being included in the questionnaire by request of the Department of Justice; there are concerns that placing a citizenship question on the Decennial Census will result in an undercount of immigrants and children.

In addition, AERA signed on to a letter from the Consortium of Social Science Associations that urged the removal of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census after raising concerns about the impact the question may have on data accuracy.

Encouraging NSF to Include Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Fields on NSCG

AERA signed on to a letter to urge the National Science Foundation to include measures related to sexual orientation and gender identity on the 2019 National Survey of College Graduates. The letter highlights the importance and feasibility of including questions that would enhance data currently collected and reported in Science and Engineering Indicators and Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering. Adding these questions would provide a more robust picture of LGBTQ people in STEM fields and to understand and address any disparities that exist.

The letter also references the recommendations for enhancing surveys with the inclusion of gender identity and sexual orientation measures included in the AERA publication LGBTQ Issues in Education: Advancing a Research Agenda

Affirming the Importance of the Privacy and Technical Assistance Center

AERA signed on to a letter to leaders of the House Education and Workforce Committee and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions to highlight the importance of the duties of the Privacy and Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) at the Department of Education. PTAC provides guidance to state education agencies and school districts in carrying out the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which governs student data privacy. The letter notes that PTAC also has helped with the implementation of best privacy practices.