Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking

Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking

The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 (commonly referred to as the Evidence Act) requires changes to how the federal government manages and uses the information it collects, emphasizing strong agency coordination for the strategic use of data.

The Evidence Act requires agencies to develop an evidence-building plan as a part of their quadrennial strategic plan, as well as an evaluation plan concurrent with their annual performance plan. It codifies and expands existing Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA) authorities. It also mandates that data be "open by default" taking into account privacy and confidentiality, requiring the development of an open data plan and a single platform that inventories all of the agency's open data assets.

The following senior agency officials have been designated to lead the Department of Education's efforts to implement the law and support the necessary cross-office and cross-agency coordination.

Chief Data Officer:Ross Santy
Evaluation Officer:Matthew Soldner
Statistical Official:Peggy Carr

As guidance is received and these officials work within and across agencies, the Department of Education looks forward to reporting its successes in implementing the law and supporting the strategic use of data.

Department of Education Data Governance Board

The Federal Data Strategy 2020 Action Plan identifies initial actions for agencies that are essential for establishing processes, building capacity, and aligning existing efforts to better leverage data as a strategic asset.

Agency Action 2 ("Institutionalize Agency Data Governance") calls for agencies to publish agency data governance materials on this webpage. The Data Governance Board Charter [PDF, 394KB] outlines the purpose, expectations, roles and responsibilities, and procedures governing the work of the Board. It includes information on membership and meeting cadence.

Department of Education Data Strategy

The Department, through its Data Governance Board, established the inaugural Data Strategy in December 2020 and the updated Department of Education Data Strategy published in August 2023. The Department of Education Data Strategy describes the Department's vision for accelerating progress toward becoming a data-driven organization and fully leveraging the power of data to advance the Department's mission of ensuring equal access and fostering educational excellence for our nation's learners.

Evidence-Building Deliverables

The Evidence Act requires each agency to develop a series of deliverables to document its work to build and use evidence in policymaking.

The Department of Education's Evaluation Policy [PDF, 152KB] was approved by the Office of the Secretary in August 2020. It reaffirms the Department's commitment to five core principles in program evaluation: (1) independence and objectivity, (2) relevance and utility, (3) rigor and quality, (4) transparency, and (5) ethics.

The Department of Education's Learning Agenda [PDF, 1.1MB] was released as part of the agency's Strategic Plan in July 2022. It outlines the priority learning questions that the Department seeks to answer between FY22 and FY26, and is organized across six focal areas: (1) addressing the impact of COVID-19 on students, educators, and faculty; (2) promoting equity in student access to education resources, opportunities, and inclusive environments; (3) supporting a diverse and talented educator workforce and professional growth to strengthen student learning; (4) meeting students' social, emotional, and academic needs; (5) increasing postsecondary value by focusing on equity-conscious strategies to address affordability, completion, post-enrollment success, and support for inclusive institutions; and (6) effectively managing federal student aid programs. The Strategic Plan also includes the Department's required Capacity Assessment [PDF, 7.7MB].

Finally, the Evidence Act also requires each agency to post an Annual Evaluation Plan describing its most significant evaluation activities. ED's current and prior-year Annual Evaluation Plans include:

The most up-to-date status of all evaluations conducted by the Department's Institute of Education Sciences can be found here.