Educational Data Systems
California collects and reports a tremendous amount of data on students, teachers, and schools. We know now, more than ever before, which schools and groups of students are meeting state standards and which are furthest behind. We know which groups of students and schools have access to certified and experienced teachers, and rigorous college and work preparatory classes, and which ones do not.
If California’s schools are going to improve student outcomes and close the achievement gaps that persist between student groups, we need more—not less—critical information about what is happening inside of districts, schools and classrooms.
However, without a comprehensive, longitudinal data system in place that can track student progress over time, what we know about public education in California is severely limited. Until just recently, the state did not have the technology and data practices in place to know which students transferred to another school and which students dropped out all together.
But, beginning in 2009-10, California’s will roll out a new student data system – CALPADS and be able to warehouse data about each individual student. With this system in place, and to an even greater extent when the teacher data system CALTIDES is launched, the state will be better able to answer questions about how students are performing academically, understand what factors affect achievement and begin to align policies and practices with what the data show to be effective strategies.
However, the work must not stop with CALPADS and CALTIDES. While these systems represent a giant step forward for California, they do not take us nearly far enough down the road. State leaders must now focus on creating linkages between these systems and linking with data systems from other sectors such as early childhood, higher education, and workforce data.
Recommendations for doing so may be found in a 2008 report by McKinsey and Co., commissioned by Governor Schwarzenegger and Superintendent of public Instruction Jack O’Connell, “Framework for a comprehensive Education Data System in California.”
To read the Education Trust-West’s published work on Data Systems, please see below.
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