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In Event: A global research on the use of open school data, for more sustainable ways to administer educational services, to manage schools and involve community stakeholders
The overall goals of this paper are to develop an evidence base for the most critical data needed and the most effective open education policies for improving government transparency and accountability in education; helping decision-makers and educational managers make informed decisions about the design and implementation of open education data policies, so as to promote transparency and empower citizens to fight against corruption; and building the commitment and capacity of civil society organizations and media representatives, in addition to education officials in charge of access to information, to work together to develop access to more practical, effective, and usable educational data, focusing on the school level.
The paper focuses on the My School website, managed by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). Nine key themes were developed from this process: Usage; Purpose; Usefulness; Limitations; Enhancements (proposed by ACARA); Enhancements (proposed by actors); Transparency; Accountability; Risks.
The approach taken was to generate new knowledge regarding My School and to utilize existing data based on two recent reviews.
New data were acquired from three main groups: a sample of school principals, parent and community groups, and policy makers.
The mixed-method research methodology involved an examination of key source documents (including the two recent reports on My School), the analysis of data obtained from the semi-structured interviews with the policy, parent, and community actors, and data obtained from the written survey.
• My School provides a broad audience of parents, the general public, politicians, community groups, the media, school authorities, researchers, principals, and other school personnel with specific data on each Australian school in a central location. Prior to My School, these data were not available to these stakeholders.
• While there are some concerns, primarily from school leaders, regarding the provision of the data on My School, other stakeholders value access to such data for a range of purposes, including better targeting of resources and services, and analysing and monitoring key input and performance data in and across schools.
• Opinions regarding the usefulness and core purpose of My School differ. There are, in fact, several purposes; as a result, the website’s usefulness for individuals and groups as a source of school-level data depends on each purpose.
• There is a clear tension between displaying data in a form widely understood by users and at the same time minimizing risks associated with the misinterpretation of the data. The balance needs to favour maintaining technical accuracy over efforts to simplify the presentation of data.
• Seven enhancements are under consideration for the further development of My School. While some reservations were expressed about most of these, the enhancements favoured by most participants included making My School mobile-friendly, ensuring My School complies with the WCAG2.0 AAA, and improving the time-series charts.
• Consideration should continue to be given to the release of My School data through a more incremental process to improve its currency and to lessen the tendency to give what many see as undue attention and focus to the data on My School over other important outcomes of schooling.