Kaplan receives IES grant to develop forecasting models for UN Sustainable Development Goals

UW–Madison’s David Kaplan, the Patricia Busk Professor of Quantitative Methods in the School of Education’s Department of Educational Psychology, has received a three-year, $897,000 grant from the Institute for Education Sciences to work on the development of probabilistic forecasting approaches to model trends toward the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

David Kaplan

In 2015, the United Nations identified equitable, high-quality education, including the achievement of literacy and numeracy by all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, as one of its global Sustainable Development Goals to be attained by 2030. To analyze education policies such as these, it is critically important to monitor trends in educational outcomes over time. Indeed, as educational systems around the world face new challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, monitoring trends in educational outcomes could help identify the long-run impact of this unprecedented health crisis on global education.

The purpose of this project is to develop probabilistic forecasting methodologies to model country-level trends in literacy and numeracy outcomes. Kaplan will concentrate on gender gaps in literacy and numeracy with a particular focus on forecasting the impact of COVID-19 on these trends. Borrowing tools from economic forecasting and weather forecasting, and leveraging data from the OECD, World Bank, and the UN, Kaplan will adopt a Bayesian inferential framework to address uncertainty at all levels of the modeling process and develop an application software package that will allow policymakers to test models under varying initial conditions of the trend lines as well as to assess the predictive utility of these models.

Nina Jude

The co-principal investigator on this project is Professor Nina Jude, the director of the Institut für Bildungswissenshaft (Institute for Education Science) and head of the Department for National and International Education Studies at the University of Heidelberg. Jude is an internationally recognized authority on policy and design issues associated with international large-scale assessments, and she will be responsible for the substantive and policy-oriented focus of this work.

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