The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will announce a nearly $3.8 million grant today to help fund a mega-database that gives Dallas school educators instant access to student information from preschool to graduation, reports the Dallas Morning News. The Dallas Independent School District began testing the database last year. It allows educators to access "real-time" student academic information and helps them watch for learning patterns. The system also holds other district-related data, such as student and teacher absences. The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation got the data system off the ground last year with a $5 million donation to the Dallas Education Foundation, a nonprofit group created in 2006 to raise money to benefit DISD. Today’s grant of $3.77 million will be distributed over three years to DISD to help build onto the current system. The donation is among more than $22 million in grants that the Gates Foundation is announcing today for research and data systems for schools and a number of education organizations. Information from DISD’s data system is available to principals in an online format called a dashboard. The dashboards are being tested in 20 DISD schools, with the goal of expanding them to all campuses next school year…

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