Educational Indicators: What's to Be Measured?

Jan 1996
Currently, numerous strategies and new initiatives for improving quality of schooling at the primary and secondary levels are being considered and implemented, with strong support from multilateral agencies, including the World Bank and the IDB. These initiatives include increasing availability and quality of teaching materials, in-service training of teachers, improvement of teaching methods, supply of subsidized breakfast and lunches at school, etc. There is little dispute these are important and necessary interventions. However, the design, monitoring and evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of these programs and of the educational sector in general is hampered by persistent deficiencies in the quality and timely availability of educational statistics. The objective of the present paper is to provide a framework for the identification of relevant educational indicators. Which are relevant types of information depends on what one wishes to analyze for which policy need. Accordingly, the paper conceptualizes two typologies. The first identifies different types of operational educational indicators, distinguishing between input, access, output and outcome indicators to show that an appropriate information system requires to cover the whole process from supplying educational services, demand factors and accessibility, to results in terms of educational performance and externalities derived from enhanced human capital formation. The second typology distinguishes various types of policy-relevant analysis, such as the assessment of educational performance and needs, cost-effectiveness analysis of educational programs, impact evaluation and assessment of externalities. The informational needs in terms of indicators are specified for each type of policy analysis. The paper concludes with a specification of priority needs in data improvement.