School & District Management

States Make Progress on Data Systems, Advocacy Group Reports

By Benjamin Herold — November 19, 2013 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

There are significant signs of progress in the effort to build more coherent statewide educational data systems, an advocacy group reports: Dozens of states are now linking K-12 and postsecondary information systems to each other, for example, while teachers in 35 states now have access to multiple years’ worth of data about the students in their classrooms.

But the Data Quality Campaign’s annual report, released Tuesday, also found that just 14 states currently offer parents access to data that track their own children’s progress over time, and only nine states were deemed to provide appropriate access to students’ data while also effectively protecting their privacy. In a conference call with reporters, executive director Aimee Guidera highlighted both issues as key challenges, especially given growing concerns from parents and advocates that the proliferation of student data is threatening children’s privacy.

“This year, states are reporting more capacity than they’ve ever had, to not only collect data in a more robust way, but also to turn this data into actionable information,” said Ms. Guidera. “It’s incredibly important that parents understand why the information is so valuable to them and that we ensure and build trust that this information is being kept safe and secure.”

‘Action Steps’

The report, “Right Questions, Right Data, Right Answers: Data for Action 2013,” is the Data Quality Campaign’s ninth. Since 2005, the Washington-based group has been tracking states’ progress against 10 “action steps” it deems essential to having high-functioning data systems. All of the data are self-reported by each state’s governor’s office. This year, every state but California participated.

Among the developments the Data Quality Campaign deemed as positive:

• Arkansas and Delaware are the first states to complete all 10 recommended actions, which include building state data repositories and implementing policies to help educators better use data in the classroom.

• Forty-four states now annually match K-12 and postsecondary data in ways that allow educators to know how their students do after they graduate high school and go on to college.

• Forty-three states have developed “governance structures to guide data collection and use,” up from 40 last year and 36 in 2011. Experts say this is a key step toward clearly defining various parties’ roles and responsibilities when it comes to collecting, storing, safeguarding, and sharing data.

• Most states now produce readily accessible reports on how high schools are performing (42 states), as well as on cohort graduate or completion rates (40).

“The biggest leap this year has been in providing greater access to information across the board,” Ms. Guidera said.

Less encouraging, though, were findings that:

• Just 9 states were deemed to be taking a comprehensive set of steps to provide appropriate access to data while protecting students’ privacy. Included within this category are indicators that “parents, teachers, and appropriate stakeholders have access to student-level longitudinal data” (14 states); “state policy ensures that teachers and parents have access to their students’ longitudinal data” (10 states); and, “the state is transparent about who is authorized to assess specific data and for what purposes” (26 states).

• Just 19 states are linking K-12 and workforce data in ways that allow policymakers to know how students do after they leave school and enter the workforce—and to gauge if students were prepared for the work world.

• Only 12 states were deemed to have effectively implemented or promoted a series of policies and practices intended to build educators’ capacity to use data.

Sharing the Data

“We need to focus on providing better feedback systems,” Ms. Guidera said, highlighting teacher-preparation programs as one key audience where more extensive data-sharing can lead to improvement. That means linking teacher performance, presumably as measured by their students’ performance, to the institution that trained those teachers. Seventeen states currently share such data with teacher-preparation programs, according to the report, up from six states in 2011 and eight last year.

Ms. Guidera stressed that the types of data systems that her organization tracks are “states’ data systems, being created by states, to meet states’ needs.” While the federal government has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to support such efforts, primarily via the Race to the Top competition and grants from the Institute of Education Sciences, most states are appropriating money of their own to improving their data systems, she said.

Ms. Guidera also said the legislative landscape around student data is poised to begin changing rapidly, pointing to what she described as “a really good piece of legislation” passed in Oklahoma in June as an example of what could be soon to come elsewhere. The Oklahoma legislation requires increased clarity and transparency around the policies and procedures for safeguarding student data.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the December 04, 2013 edition of Education Week

Events

School Climate & Safety K-12 Essentials Forum Strengthen Students’ Connections to School
Join this free event to learn how schools are creating the space for students to form strong bonds with each other and trusted adults.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Creating Confident Readers: Why Differentiated Instruction is Equitable Instruction
Join us as we break down how differentiated instruction can advance your school’s literacy and equity goals.
Content provided by Lexia Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
Future-Proofing Your School's Tech Ecosystem: Strategies for Asset Tracking, Sustainability, and Budget Optimization
Gain actionable insights into effective asset management, budget optimization, and sustainable IT practices.
Content provided by Follett Learning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Schools Successfully Fighting Chronic Absenteeism Have This in Common
A White House summit homed in on chronic absenteeism and strategies to reduce it.
6 min read
An empty elementary school classroom is seen on Aug. 17, 2021 in the Bronx borough of New York. Nationwide, students have been absent at record rates since schools reopened after COVID-forced closures. More than a quarter of students missed at least 10% of the 2021-22 school year.
An empty elementary school classroom is seen on Aug. 17, 2021 in the Bronx borough of New York. A White House summit on May 15, 2024, brought attention to elevated chronic absenteeism and strategies districts have used to fight it.
Brittainy Newman/AP
School & District Management From Our Research Center Here's What Superintendents Think They Should Be Paid
A new survey asks school district leaders whether they're paid fairly.
3 min read
Illustration of a ladder on a blue background reaching the shape of a puzzle piece peeled back and revealing a Benjamin Franklin bank note behind it.
iStock/Getty
School & District Management Q&A How K-12 Leaders Can Better Manage Divisive Curriculum and Culture War Debates
The leader of an effort to equip K-12 leaders with conflict resolution skills urges relationship-building—and knowing when to disengage.
7 min read
Katy Anthes, Commissioner of Education in Colorado from 2016- 2023, participates in a breakout session during the Education Week Leadership Symposium on May 3, 2024.
Katy Anthes, who served as commissioner of education in Colorado from 2016-2023, participates in a breakout session during the Education Week Leadership Symposium on May 3, 2024. Anthes specializes in helping school district leaders successfully manage politically charged conflicts.
Chris Ferenzi for Education Week
School & District Management Virginia School Board Restores Confederate Names to 2 Schools
The vote reverses a decision made in 2020 as dozens of schools nationwide dropped Confederate figures from their names.
2 min read
A statue of confederate general Stonewall Jackson is removed on July 1, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Shenandoah County, Virginia's school board voted 5-1 early Friday, May 10, 2024, to rename Mountain View High School as Stonewall Jackson High School and Honey Run Elementary as Ashby Lee Elementary four years after the names had been removed.
A statue of confederate general Stonewall Jackson is removed on July 1, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Shenandoah County, Virginia's school board voted 5-1 early Friday, May 10, 2024, to rename Mountain View High School as Stonewall Jackson High School and Honey Run Elementary as Ashby Lee Elementary four years after the names had been removed.
Steve Helber/AP