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Designing Shared Measurement Systems

**Raderstrong, J., & Perkins, J. (2015). Four components of a shared result that creates enduring change. Living Cities. Available at

The authors write that collective impact has potential for getting stronger results more quickly than other forms of collaboration. In their view, what makes collective impact different than other collaborations is agreement on a specific goal or outcome as the focus of the collaboration. To be effective, partners should ensure that they are agreeing to goals that (1) have a population-level focus, which usually means a group of people that is larger than any one organization could reach on its own; (2) are SMART (specific, measureable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound); (3) all partners are committed and accountable to; and (4) are nested in the particulars of its local context. These components are important because they focus and specify the purpose of the work within the limits of what is possible and relevant for all partners involved.

Kramer, M., Parkhurst, M., & Vaidyanathan, L. (2009). Breakthroughs in shared measurement. (pp. 1-8). FSG Social Impact Advisors. Available at [registration required].

The authors argue that shared measurement systems are essential to addressing any social problem in a systemic way. Drawing on interviews with twenty different organizations engaged in measurement efforts, they share the three breakthroughs that have enabled the coordination of large-scale, social improvement efforts. First, shared measurement platforms—or online tools—allow organizations to select relevant measures, gather data, and report on progress more inexpensively. They found that this strategy increases efficiency. Second, comparative performance systems—also online tools—enable organizations within a field to report on and to see the same measurements. This facilitates a better understanding of impacts across the field and helps organizations learn from each other. And third, adaptive learning systems—or an ongoing participatory process—help organizations align their goals, collaborate, and participate in a learning community. The authors found that this participatory process yielded an increased impact on organizations’ outcomes.

Herold, B. (2015). Schools, government agencies move to share student data. EdWeek. Available at

As much as shared data and measurement are a cornerstone of cross-systems collaboration, agencies around the country have run up against legal barriers around privacy and security of student data. This article discusses some of these challenges and highlights some of the work-arounds or protocols successful collaborations have developed to continue their work. For example, many organizations not only had to develop the infrastructure and technical capacity for sharing data, but also had to acquire the support of parents and communities with concerns about sharing private information about their families and students. The article states that only 11 states and 12 cities and counties have cross-systems databases, and these numbers can grow with continued federal-level support. Writing in 2015, the author notes the Obama administration’s support for data sharing; there is no discussion of the Trump administration’s position.

ROC the Future. (2016). State of our children annual report card: 2016. Rochester, NY: Author. Available at

ROC The Future is one of several collective impact efforts in the larger StriveTogether network, a leader in collective impact. ROC The Future aims to improve well-being and outcomes for children in Rochester, New York from birth to adulthood, and measures progress in six key indicators: (1) kindergarten readiness, (2) third grade reading (3) eighth grade math, (4) high school graduation, (5) post-secondary enrollment, and (6) post-secondary completion. This 2016 progress report to the community shows data trends for children in Rochester for the six indicators. This piece provides one example of what shared measurement systems can look like in a well-established collective impact effort.