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the advantages of a fiscal data system

Financial Reporting Within a System of Education Information This chapter examines the advantages of a fiscal data system that is part of a comprehensive education information system. It also describes useful applications of education information and identifies frequent users of school finance information. Background The successful management of any large organization requires the effective use of information. Information about education ranges from staff and student information to financial information at the school facility and program levels. A comprehensive education information system can provide benefits such as the following: • Better decisionmaking. Good information helps drive good decisions. An information system can make good decisionmaking possible for school-based administrators as well as for external users of education information. • Ability to target specific areas for improvement. Timely and accurate data can help decisionmakers at all levels focus on improvement strategies. • Ability to examine wide-ranging goals. Disaggregating data for analysis helps identify programmatic and fiscal inequities and determine baselines for improvement. • Timely and complete program evaluation. To be effective, program evaluation must be timely as well as complete. When program and other data are compiled and linked in a welldesigned information system, the goals of schooling can be met more effectively and efficiently. • Greater budgetary control. Greater budgetary control is possible when all of the costs of school operations are available. • Improved administrative efficiency and mandated reporting. Building core databases around data elements of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Common Core of Data (CCD) provides comparability and can improve administrative efficiency and facilitate mandated reporting. The CCD is a data collection compiled from the administrative records of state education agencies. It includes nonfiscal data on public elementary and secondary education at the school, school district, and state levels and finance data on public elementary and secondary education at the school district and state levels. The benefits of a comprehensive information system become especially apparent when examining the relationship between programs and costs. To make appropriate, cost-effective, and timely decisions about students, schools, and programs, accurate and complete information must be widely available to the many users of education data, such as the research community, school administrators, school boards, policymakers, school improvement teams, creditors and potential 7 creditors, and the general public. A comprehensive information system allows a complete, accurate, and timely display of the distribution and use of resources.