Assessing Alternative Sources of Data for Education Research

Authors:Keller, Sallie, PV-Biocomplexity InitiativeUniversity of Virginia ORCID icon, Stephanie, PV-Biocomplexity InitiativeUniversity of Virginia ORCID icon, Aaron, PV-Biocomplexity InitiativeUniversity of Virginia ORCID icon, KathrynAngelotti, Kyle Norman, BerkOrr, Mark, PV-Biocomplexity InitiativeUniversity of Virginia Pires, Bianica

A wealth of alternative sources of education data, such as administrative and commercial data, are now available to researchers. These data have certain benefits over traditional survey research, including timeliness, lower cost, larger samples, geographical granularity, and longitudinal tracking. However, these data also present several challenges and require a different approach to data discovery, acquisition, and processing. These challenges include 1) identifying relevant data, 2) determining the usefulness of these data for answering specific research questions, 3) choosing among the data sources, 4) acquiring the data within a reasonable timeframe, and 5) assessing the quality of the data. This paper presents potential solutions and methodologies for addressing each challenge. Potential solutions include developing a data inventory, developing of a metric, and collecting additional detailed information in order to filter the data sources and determine which source(s) to target. In addition, we provide examples from an education project with the U.S. Census Bureau to highlight each challenge and solution. The purpose is to provide researchers with methods that better enable them to use alternative education data in research.

State Education Data, administrative data
Source Citation:

Ziemer, K., Keller, S., Angelotti, K., Norman, B., Orr, M., Pires, B., Schroeder, A., Shipp, S. (2016). Assessing Alternative Sources of Data for Education Research. Proceedings of the Biocomplexity Institute, Technical Report. TR# 2021-098. University of Virginia.

University of Virginia
Published Date:
Sponsoring Agency:
US Census Bureau under contract to MITRE Corp.