Are we really helping? Data collection tools for Texas Main Street Cities
Data for the Texas Main Street Program is collected from the participating individual local programs through program managers who may not have sufficient knowledge, education or training to accurately or adequately provide the information requested. The questions asked in the report forms do not capture data that can give a clear picture of program performance or provide an effective comparison of peer programs. The format of the reporting forms is weighted toward manual transfer of information and presents difficulties for systematic review. These three factors combined inhibit analysis that can inform the effectiveness of state program policies which are implemented at the local level. Building a set of tools to effectively utilize data collection opportunities can help improve the quality of data collected. Better quality data enables analysis of how well the programs are working locally. This analysis could serve to inform Texas Main Street Program policy and provide opportunities to improve the local programs and to understand what successes can be replicated. This Professional Report analyzes how data is currently collected by the Texas Main Street Program, what is done with that data and what changes could be made to the current set of data collection tools. It also proposes new tools that could enable more effective policy for the program.