BOX 6-1

10 Essential Elements of a Robust Longitudinal Data System

  1. A unique student identifier.

  2. Student-level enrollment, demographic, and program participation information.

  3. The ability to match individual students’ test scores from year to year to measure academic growth.

  4. Information on untested students.

  5. A teacher identifier system with the ability to match teachers to students.

  6. Student-level transcript information, including information on courses completed and grades earned.

  7. Student-level college readiness test scores.

  8. Student-level graduation and dropout rates.

  9. The ability to match student records between the PK-12 and the postsecondary systems.

  10. A state data audit system assessing data quality, validity, and reliability.

SOURCE: Reprinted with permission from the Data Quality Campaign, copyright 2007.

collaborative effort to encourage and support state policy makers to improve the availability and use of high-quality education data to improve student achievement. The goal of the DQC is to help states design data systems that contain the necessary information to answer research questions about the correlates of student achievement and educational progress. The DQC has worked with policy makers to define their questions and to identify the required data.

The DQC has focused its efforts on helping states build high-quality data systems that can effectively and accurately answer questions that cannot be answered with cross-sectional data. To this end, the organization has identified 10 essential elements of a robust longitudinal data system, which are shown in Box 6-1.

DQC conducts annual surveys of states to gather information about the status of their data system development. When the campaign began, no state had a data system that incorporated all of the elements. By 2008, significant progress had been made, with 4 states (Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, and Utah)2

funding is now provided by the Casey Family Program, the Lumina Foundation, and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation for Education.


As of July 2009, this increased to 6 states, adding Georgia and Louisiana to the list of states with all 10 elements in place. See for most recent status of states’ progress on implementing these elements into their data systems.

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