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Using Longitudinal Data as a Source of Information for Education Policy and Programs in Israel: Longitudinal Surveys as a Test Case

In recent years, there is growing interest among researchers and decision makers in Israel in reinforcing public policy planning and monitoring through the consistent use of research-based information, data and knowledge. One of the directions still in need of clarification and promotion is integrating the use of longitudinal surveys in Israel. By using longitudinal surveys (following individuals over time) it is possible to draw conclusions regarding the contribution of diverse components in the individual’s life over the course of different age stages, and to thus receive a picture of society and changes that have taken place throughout the years. These two facets together are important to ensure informed social and education policy planning and results monitoring.

The Initiative for Applied Education Research, with the support and encouragement of Yad HaNadiv, has established an expert team to lead the learning process for experts and stakeholders in order to realize two aims:
  1. study and clarification over time of the methods to promote consistent and professional use of diverse data so as to improve the decision-making process in the field of education – longitudinal surveys as a test case
  2. creating opportunities for stakeholders to learn cooperatively so that future practice will be informed and based on familiarity with the options, the practice and the existing programs in a range of relevant areas.
The learning process will bring together those working in the field as well as parties interested in these issues, especially in the field of education, for a discussion that will be based on scientific literature reviews and examples of data use from around the world. In part, the sessions will be devoted to deliberating the benefit expected to ensue as a result of integrating data on teacher and student achievements into a broader system of social, economic, health and other information. Longitudinal surveys, as a methodological tool, will constitute a key test case for this discussion.
Longitudinal surveys require addressing two main challenges. The first challenge is connecting between and integrating databases. The second challenge is the issue of protecting individual privacy and the need to regulate secure sharing of data in a way that private information will not be misused. There are quite a few Western countries we can learn from with respect to how to maximize the benefit of longitudinal surveys and how to cope with the difficulties and challenges they entail. Increasingly sophisticated technology already plays an important role in this context and education-focused longitudinal surveys can be mentioned, for example, the EPPE whose success was expanded to the EPPSE, the longitudinal surveys conducted by the CLS in Britain, or the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS88), carried out in the United States.



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