AERA Submits Comments to Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building
AERA Submits Comments to Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building

February 2021

On February 9, AERA provided comments in response to a request for information from the Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building (ACDEB). The ACDEB sought feedback on several questions to inform the committee’s work as it continues to implement the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (“Evidence Act”) and the recommendations of the Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking.

AERA’s comments focused on highlighting how data has been used to inform policy; the importance that data use has in advancing research findings; and the current needs of federal, state, and local policymakers for data to inform evidence-based response to the COVID-19 pandemic. AERA also recommended in the comments that the committee should move forward with developing a National Secure Data Service to be able to link data across federal agencies while securing privacy and adhering to confidentiality protections. In addition, AERA recommends that consideration be given to using the approach of a new Federally-Funded Research and Development Center and to locate responsibility for it at the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics at the National Science Foundation.

The comments also noted that data from state and local education agencies can inform broader policy, referencing the proposed school pulse survey as one example where federal statistical agencies can act but require financial and staffing resources.

“Federal statistical agencies should be afforded the flexibility and resources in order to respond to emerging data needs of policymakers and additional stakeholders needing sound data for evidence-based decision making,” wrote AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine.

The comments also included two recommendations for the federal government to provide incentives to state and local agencies to build the capacity to use data for evidence-building. First, Congress should increase funding and ensure adequate staffing levels at statistical agencies to support state and local agencies in data collection. Second, federal agencies can work in partnership to develop and implement data standards to facilitate data linkages for policymaking and evaluation purposes.

AERA has been actively engaged in efforts to support researchers and policymakers in using and linking data for evidence-based policymaking.