The field of education has a number of challenges in terms of policy planning, and statistics are particularly important as they often provide some of the only objective information that administrators use when making organizational and curricular decisions. Without this hard data in place, often nothing separates the merits of the various arguments that people on different sides of policy decisions make supporting their own cases.
Test score trends are one of the most commonly used statistics in the field of education. They are used to evaluate the effectiveness of classroom teachers and the validity of the tests themselves as well as the effects of various risk factors on educational outcomes. Standardized tests take their value from the fact that all students in a particular state or region take them, showing competency in a way that individual grades cannot because grades vary by teacher.
Another statistic that plays an important role in educational policy planning is the comparison of test scores and other objective outcomes for members of various ethnic subgroups. Because of the risk factors that accompany specific subgroups, educational planners are charged with the task of closing the achievement gaps between various ethnic subgroups as well as between the student body as a whole and students of low socioeconomic status.