Letter to the Editor: Can they be that obsessed with data?

MEDA’s Evaluation Team recently wrote a Letter to the Editor regarding a blog in the Washington Post which questions the value of collecting and analyzing certain data required by the U.S. Department of Education Promise Neighborhoods program. Yes we are that obsessed with data!

Read their response below. Click here to see original article


Letter to the editor: Can they be that obsessed with data? Strauss 9/18

In her recent post, “Can they be that obsessed with data?” Valerie Strauss states that the Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhood‘s data requirements need “rethinking” [because] “the information sought is nearly impossible to accurately gather.”  The evaluation team of the Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN) disagrees.

At its core the Promise Neighborhood (PN) Initiative aims to change the systems that directly influence a number of outcomes including students’ physical activity levels, which is one of the outcomes highlighted. What this means is that in addition to asking whether students’ physical activities change over the 5-year grant period, PN’s also document the organizational, programmatic and policy-level efforts that would in fact get kids moving. Examples of these include changes in after school programs that promote physical activity and increased neighborhood safety so children and families can safely walk to and from school. These indicators are not just about collecting data, but about getting where policy makers, funders and communities can understand more about “what works.”

Ms. Strauss is correct in asserting that the challenges in the collection of these data are very real. The MPN plans to address these challenges by refining measures and tailoring questions to better reflect the reality of our neighborhood. We believe that good data are the first building blocks of a successful public policy initiative.


Carolina Guzmán & Monica E. Lopez, MSW, Ph.D.
Mission Economic Development and Mission Promise Neighborhood
2301 Mission Street, Suite 301
San Francico, CA 94110
P: 415.282.3334 x 103

Disclaimer: The Mission Promise Neighborhood is part of the Department of Education’s (DoE) 2012 Promise Neighborhood implementation site and receives direct funds from DoE.



Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *