Dataween: Unmasking the Possibilities of Data-Driven Policy

Nov 14, 2017

R. Kirk Jonas, Director, NGA Center for Best PracticesOn Halloween, my colleagues and I joined the National Governors Association for a new kind of celebration, one in which our researchers shared analytic tools and data-driven insights with state policymakers and their staff. We covered issues ranging from tracking concussions in youth sports to using wastewater testing to tackle the opioid epidemic. We dubbed this event “Dataween” and while we like to think every day is an opportunity to unmask the possibilities of data-driven public policy, this presented a unique opportunity to share that approach with governors’ offices, state member-based associations, and others.

The event featured 12 science fair-style booths, where Mathematica’s researchers helped NGA staff access new user-friendly tools to interpret data; learn how innovative research techniques can improve programs and policies and address states’ biggest challenges; and build partnerships for providing technical assistance on data collection and analytics. Below are just a few examples of the experts at the event and the insights they shared.

Testing Wastewater’s Capacity to Inform Public Health

Aparna Keshaviah, a senior statistician, showcased her latest work on the use of wastewater testing to help local, state, and federal officials identify opioid abuse and other drug threats before they proliferate, enabling officials to deploy resources more effectively.

Conducting Your Own Experiments with the Coach

Courtney Powers, a business analyst, shared the Ed Tech RCE Coach, a platform that guides school district administrators through the process of planning and executing a rapid-cycle evaluation of an educational technology. The Coach includes all of the tools needed to conduct a forward-looking pilot—or a backward-looking evaluation of a technology already implemented—with a subset of schools, teachers, or students.

Tracking Injury Data on Student Athletes

Bill Reeves, a strategy analyst, demonstrated the Injury Dashboard and Analytics Platform (IDAP). The IDAP is a data hub and interactive platform that puts the power of data collection and research into the hands of school officials. With this tool, they can conduct experiments and perform data analysis under the guidance of a researcher.

We hope all Dataween-goers, state policymakers, and their staff share our belief that the data, analysis, and research behind our findings aren’t so scary after all. They’re not a trick—but a treat!


The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not represent those of Mathematica Policy Research.

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