ED to fund unified student data systems

“Longitudinal data is not just a K-12 issue; it requires gubernatorial commitment because all of our systems–from early childhood, to K-12 education, to colleges and universities, to workforce development, to employment databases–must work together to make data collection possible,” Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, chairman of the National Governors Association, said at a March forum.

That forum, “Leveraging the Power of Data to Improve Education,” was sponsored by the Data Quality Campaign (DQC), an organization that promotes the use of student data to improve academic achievement by implementing statewide longitudinal data systems.

“And we need to do more to make the data useful, because even the best data collection system is worthless if it does not change what goes on in the classroom,” Rendell said.

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor in the U.S. House of Representatives, voiced strong support for the new federal investment in data systems.

Miller said he hopes states and districts “will take a serious and thoughtful approach about how they can use data to help improve student learning.”

“States have made great progress in building their longitudinal data systems, but now we need a cultural shift to build the political will and take the practical steps needed to ensure that [these] data [are] accessed, shared, and used for continuous education improvement,” said Aimee Rogstad Guidera, director of the Data Quality Campaign.

Guidera said DQC will turn its attention to helping states identify and execute policies and practices to help stakeholders use education data.

DQC urges that data systems reflect its 10 essential data system elements, found here. Some of those essential elements include a statewide student identifier; student-level enrollment, test, and course completion/transcript data; information on untested students; and a statewide teacher identifier with a student-teacher matching component.

According to a 2008 DQC survey about states’ progress in developing data systems, only six states have all 10 essential elements of a strong student data system, but 48 states have at least 5 of the essential elements. (See “Forum calls for better data use in education.”)

Laura Ascione
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