Educational data must follow students as they cross state lines, and policy makers must be equipped with the tools needed to ensure that teachers, students, and parents have access to this important information, according to two reports released by the Data Quality Campaign (DQC).
One such tool is an open-source system that lets educators pull and use data from a range of existing sources, created with support from the Dell Foundation. Another is an interstate data exchange system being used by four states.
The DQC defines student data as more than test scores—it includes attendance, course-taking, teacher information, and financial information. Data also includes any information that stakeholders need to make decisions, and that often means more than state data. Of equal importance are prekindergarten data and data from post-secondary education and the workforce.
The most useful student data include longitudinal data that follow individual students over time and across systems and sectors; actionable data that are user-friendly; and contextual data that are robust, comparable, and presented as part of a bigger picture.
“The 21st-century reality is that education does not happen in state silos,” said DQC Executive Director Aimee Guidera during a Nov. 28 panel discussion to review the reports. “Our teachers and students are mobile, but too often their data stop at the state border. It’s vital that policy makers find common-sense solutions to ensure accurate, comparable information for all education stakeholders, and states cannot do that without sharing limited and appropriate data across state lines.”