Published Online: January 29, 2010
Published in Print: February 3, 2010, as Sharing Data With Higher Ed.

IT Management

Linking K-12 Data to Higher Ed.

Challenges complicate K-20 collaboration.

Spurred by the prospect of grant funding from the federal Race to the Top competition, as well as money made available from other parts of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, more states are taking strides to link K-12 data systems with postsecondary agencies to develop a more holistic picture of each student.

But despite the emphasis among policy leaders on K-20 data systems, the progress that states have made toward that goal varies greatly, and many challenges—both technical and political—remain.

Although the idea of linking precollegiate data with postsecondary databases has been around for years, the difference is “it is no longer something that seems to be a good idea to people just in education,” says Ben Passmore, the director of policy research for the Adelphi, Md.-based University System of Maryland, which represents 11 universities, two research institutions, and two regional higher education centers in that state.

See Also
For a more in-depth version of this story, read "States Struggle to Stitch Together Pre-K-20 Data."

The federal government has also put a heavy emphasis on beefing up statewide longitudinal-data systems, he says. “This is something that’s going to happen,” says Passmore, “and it’s happened at a really breakneck pace over the past year.”

According to a 2009 survey by the Washington-based Data Quality Campaign, which encourages state policymakers to improve the use and availability of education data, 32 states have the ability to match student-level K-12 and higher education data, although most states, the survey found, do not have data systems that allow for two-way communication between the databases.

One of the challenges of linking K-12 with postsecondary data is figuring out how to track students accurately from one agency to the next.

An essential step toward linking K-12 and postsecondary data is establishing a unique student-identification number that can help follow each individual student through the K-20 continuum, spanning kindergarten to graduate education, says Adam Levinson, the director of policy and strategic planning for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

“The unique ID is the cornerstone of the longitudinal-data systems,” Levinson says.

Vol. 03, Issue 02, Page 42

Related Stories
You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login | Register
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories

Viewed

Emailed

Recommended

Commented

MORE EDUCATION JOBS >>