While most of the action on data is at the state and district levels, the federal government is playing a role, too.
By requiring greater accountability and spawning a huge expansion of available test results, the federal No Child Left Behind Act has indirectly given states and school districts both a motive and a means to use data to raise student achievement.
In fact, the federal government has been prodding states in that direction starting well before the 4-year-old law took effect. Since the mid-1990s, the U.S. Department of Education has supported initiatives on using data and has been active in several national initiatives on data standards and quality.
Last fall, the department gave out the first 14 grants under a program to support the creation of longitudinal data systems in the states. The department also has been revamping its own data systems, notably the one that receives information from the states on their use of federal money. Spring 2005 saw the test run of what eventually will be a massive national database of information related to the school accountability requirements of the No...
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