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Ensuring adequate capacity for using data and research

When developing this improved education information system, Latvia should not overlook the capacities of the people who are to use and contribute to it. Research evidence shows that the development of an effective education management information system involves considerable investment in developing competences and skills for evaluation and assessment at all levels of the system. All too often data and information are primarily seen as a tool for accountability with less attention being paid to how to actually use them in daily practice (Fazekas and Burns, 2012; OECD, 2013b; Cassidy, 2006).

Apart from a possible underdeveloped “culture” within MoES of using data and research evidence for policy-making purposes, the root problem seems to be capacity constraints. The evidence suggests there is considerable scope for strengthening the capacity of MoEs for data collection and analysis.

Furthermore, this review points to a number of issues that MoES should consider investigating through research to help inform and strengthen its reform agenda. vocational education and tertiary education have benefited greatly in recent years from a series of important research reports that have acted as a catalyst for education reforms. Apart from possibly the oECD review of teacher remuneration (2014b), other parts of the education system have had few such prominent studies.

in addition, MoES could consider establishing an independent research institution to expand its research and evaluation capacity, possibly by investing in a national body with specialist expertise in the area or alternatively through Latvia’s universities. Latvia could look to the example of Austria, which established the Austrian Institute for Education Research, Innovation and Development in Schooling in 2008 as an independent legal entity with clear roles and responsibilities. This represented a significant increase in the volume and quality of education research activities in Austria. Its mission statement is as follows: “A country’s future prospects are inextricably linked to the quality of the education system. To further improve the Austrian education system, it is necessary to take stock of the current situation, to implement effective reforms and then to evaluate these. The basis for this is the development of evidence-based education policy and systematic school development” (OECD, 2013c).

 
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