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Learn More: CALPADS & Statewide Data Systems

Learn More: CALPADS & Statewide Data Systems

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We all know data is important. We see its benefits in our everyday lives.  When we go to the doctor, we want him or her having access to your medical history to correctly diagnose and treat our ailments. We rely on police officers to analyze data to identify emerging threats in real time and keep us safe, and expect business leaders to depend on high-quality data when making important management decisions that affect our economy.  And yet, too many educators are responsible for student learning without having access to critical information, such as whether a child has moved schools frequently, whether she has had attendance issues in the past, or whether she excels academically or need supports in some areas.

If we are going to improve student outcomes and close the achievement gaps that persist between student groups, we must demand more—not less—critical information about what is happening inside of districts, schools and classrooms.

The Data Quality Campaign, a partner of the Education Trust—West, helps make the case for the power of data to improve our education system and close achievement gaps with this short, compelling animated video. Watch the Data Quality Campaign video, Data is Power.



History & Background:
California is in the process of rolling out a new data system that will warehouse data about each individual student over time. This student data system--known as CALPADS, the California Longitudinal Pupil Data System--has already been collecting data for several years, but there is still work to be done: more data indicators are being added, reports are being developed, and refinements are being made. The state has also been planning to develop a data system to track individual teachers over time--known as CALTIDES, the California Longitudinal Teacher Integrated Data Education System--that would eventually link to CALPADS, matching individual students to their teachers. Once CALPADS is fully up and running, the state will be better able to answer questions about how students are performing academically, understand what school-based factors affect achievement, and begin to align policies and practices with what the data show to be effective strategies.



AUGUST 2011 – The first 4-year cohort graduation rates are reported using accurate student-level data generated by CALPADS. This satisfies a major federal requirement to be able to report such data.

JUNE 2011 – Despite his proposal to de-fund the state’s data systems, Governor Brown signed into law the 2011-12 budget, which continued funding for CALPADS. Unfortunately, funding for CALTIDES, the teacher data system, was eliminated from the budget.

NOVEMBER 2010 – The California Department of Education reports that 99 percent of school districts successfully submitted enrollment, graduation and dropout data for every student to CALPADS.

MAY 2010 – The Institute for Education Sciences (IES) announced that California did not win a grant to fund the development of its state longitudinal data system. The loss of this grant put the future of California’s data systems in question. See Education Trust-West’s statement here.

FEBRUARY 2010 – The California Department of Education announced in a letter that school districts should halt submitting any new data to CALPADS while the system vendor, IBM, and CDE staff worked to stabilize the malfunctioning data system. Submission of 2009–10 enrollment and 2008–09 student exit data used to determine graduate and dropout counts would not be due to the CDE until after May 2010, delaying reporting of these data to the public. Reporting of staff counts and assignments and student course enrollments will not be submitted to CALPADS at all this year, and instead will be submitted through the systems used in the past.

AUGUST 2009 – The Countdown to CALPADS newsletter announced that the CALPADS system would become functional and available statewide on August 31, 2009. District CALPADS Administrators would start submitting data in October 2009. Trainings on CALPADS would continue to be administered for local data managers.


State Longitudinal Data Systems are Key for Closing Opportunity and Achievement Gaps:
Data is power.  California must continue to fund, develop, and implement the state’s student and teacher data systems (CALPADS & CALTIDES) so that educators and policymakers have access to the data needed to make informed decisions. 

California needs to expand the use of data to inform decisions at the school, district, and state levels.  By building interactive, dynamic, query tools and reports—and offering accompanying professional development—educators can access the data needed to make decisions on behalf of students.  There is no doubt that data can be a powerful tool in improving our education system and for closing achievement gaps. 

At the Information Alliance’s event last year, From Inputs to Outputs: The Power of Data and Technology to Close the Achievement Gap, Executive Director Arun Ramanathan showed how:



For more information about what California’s state policymakers should do to have a system that enables the use of data to make decisions at the classroom, school, district and state levels, read Education Trust—West’s publication No Time to Delay: Delivering the Statewide Data Systems California’s Students Deserve.

California’s Education Data Systems in the News:
The essential role of statewide data systems to improve California’s public schools is often covered in the local and national news. This indicates an interest on the part of parents, community members, and policymakers to ensure they have transparent access to information about how students are faring in the state’s public education system.


State education data system, CALPADS, makes critical turn
SI&A Cabinet Report - Tom Chorneau - March 26, 2012
The state’s much-maligned student longitudinal data system still has many critics and a long road ahead before fulfilling its many promises – but there appears to be strong evidence the program is finally working as designed.

California Steps forward & back on school data
Thoughts on Public Education - Kathryn Baron - Dec 02, 2011
California’s various education databases bring to mind that philosophical puzzle about the tree falling in a forest. The state has the ability to link them and make them robust, but since there’s no political will to do that, how useful are they?

CALPADS goes to College
Thoughts on Public Education - Kathryn Baron - Oct 07, 2011
California’s student data system has reached another milestone.  By linking the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, known as CALPADS, with two other data systems, state education officials tracked for the first time the number of high school graduates who enrolled in college – in and out of state.

Brown’s mystifying CALTIDES veto
Thoughts on Public Education - John Fensterwald - Aug 15, 2011
Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of $2.1 million for the development a statewide database on teachers – CALTIDES – apparently ticked off U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, pleased the California Teachers Assn., and puzzled just about everyone else in education, who are left wondering, “Just what does Jerry want?”

New way of counting dropouts
Thoughts on Public Education - Kathryn Baron - Aug 12, 2011
There’s not much new in the latest graduation and drop-out rates released yesterday by the California Department of Education (CDE), except for the way they were computed.

Brown vetoes teacher database
Thoughts on Public Education - John Fensterwald - July 01, 2011
In a compromise with the Legislature, Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed money for one of two education databases he wanted to eliminate.

California Data System Threatened by State Budget Squeeze  
Education Week News - Katie Ash - ‎ Jun 14, 2011
The proposal is the latest in a string of setbacks, both technical and financial, for CALPADS, which is being built and implemented by a contractor, IBM, through the California Department of Education.

CA Budget: Cutting Student Data Systems Would Harm Parents, Educators
New America Media ‎- Arun Ramanathan -Jun 11, 2011‎
Over the past decade, Californians have learned a lot about the academic performance of our students, thanks in large part to data collected from school districts.

Brown urged to restore funds for education databases
Los Angeles Times - Jason Song - ‎Jun 6, 2011‎
Governor plans to cut $3.5 million for databases that track students' test scores and teachers' performance. In March, Gov. Jerry Brown enacted 13 bills that aimed to cut $11.2 billion from California's budget deficit.

The case for/against CALPADS
Thoughts on Public Education - John Fensterwald - ‎May 24, 2011‎
For all of the shortcomings in its implementation, the data system CALPADS has always had plenty of supporters.

CALPADS put on ice
Thoughts on Public Education - John Fensterwald - ‎May 17, 2011‎
Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to suspend funding for CALPADS, the state student longitudinal data system, and to stop further planning for CALTIDES, the teacher data base system that was to be joined at the hip with CALPADS.

Look to districts for innovative use of data          
Thoughts on Public Education - John Fensterwald - ‎October 20, 2010
In Sacramento, the partially completed statewide student data system, CALPADS, has become mired in a power struggle over the management and oversight of the system. But in Fresno, Long Beach, and San Jose, districts aren’t waiting around for the state to finish a colossus.


Additional Information & Resources:
Click here for updates on the implementation of CALPADS & CALTIDES from the California Department of Education.