Chapter 1. Chapter 1. What Are Metadata and Why Are They Important? - Who Benefits From Metadata?
Although anyone who handles data or uses data for decisionmaking will benefit from
the implementation of a sound metadata system, several categories of users have the
most to gain.
For policymaking and administrative staff, metadata will help:
- improve data analysis and use by providing access to instructions and
reduce questions from the media and other data users by improving access to
supporting information about data that are reported publicly;
- improve the accessibility and presentation of data for informing instructional
and administrative decisionmaking;
- improve the likelihood that data about schools reflect what is really going on;
- identify why individual data elements are collected (e.g., information about
mandates and use); and
- improve the understanding of connections between data and policymaking.
For technology staff, metadata will help:
- provide a clear list of technical attributes (for example, field length) that can be
applied without having to reconsider management parameters each time a new
item is collected and stored;
- improve the understanding of the business processes driving the collection and
use of data that technical staff maintain;
- identify sensitive and confidential data, thereby improving system security;
- simplify and expedite data access and retrieval;
- reduce user inquiries to technical staff through improved system navigation
and data accessibility; and
- simplify the exchange of data between systems, both within and outside the
For program staff, metadata will help:
- reduce the likelihood of incorrect or inconsistent reporting;
- reduce collection demands by identifying redundant data elements;
- minimize questions from technical staff about data maintenance instructions;
- reduce questions from policymaking staff about data use instructions;
- improve data comparability and continuity over time within a program area
and across the organization; and
- improve data auditing, thereby increasing overall data quality.