think that states are likely to have made considerable progress in their systems over the past two years while this report was in production, in part due to requirements for competing for Race to the Top grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education. As a result, some of the specific details in this chapter may be out of date. Nevertheless, the basic components of a high-quality data system, as discussed in this chapter, are still relevant, and the recommendations we offer are still valid.
The status of longitudinal data systems across the states is uneven. While some states are just beginning, others have long had data warehouses capable of providing longitudinal data about their K-12 school systems. For instance, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas have had systems in place since the 1980s. These data systems were developed to meet a variety of state needs and have served as the building block for currently existing longitudinal data systems. They contain information about school facilities, school personnel, school finances, instructional programs, and students. However, these data systems were not necessarily created to yield information about individual students’ educational achievement and progress.
The passage of the Educational Technical Assistance Act of 2002 refocused data system design efforts on producing longitudinal systems capable of answering questions about student achievement. The Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) Grant Program, as authorized by the act, was designed to (http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/):
aid state education agencies in developing and implementing longitudinal data systems. These systems are intended to enhance the ability of states to efficiently and accurately manage, analyze, and use education data, including individual student records. The data systems developed with funds from these grants should help states, districts, schools, and teachers make data-driven decisions to improve student learning, as well as facilitate research to increase student achievement and close achievement gaps.
In the first year of the program (2005-2006), grants were awarded to 13 states. Another 13 states received grants in 2006-2007, and 16 states received grants in 2007-2008. Thus, at the time of the workshop in October 2008, work on state data systems was well under way, with a total of 41 states and the District of Columbia having received SLDS grants (see http://nces.ed.gov/Programs/SLDS/index.asp).
To assist states with their data systems, the Gates Foundation developed the Data Quality Campaign (DQC).1 Formed in 2005, the DQC is a national,