It’s Not about the Data
Larry and Helen work in the project office for the Governor. Larry is a data analyst and Helen is a technologist, and, as a team of two, they’re responsible for fulfilling information requests from various parties across the state. They receive a request from the state legislature. The state’s elementary schools have been the beneficiaries of a generous donation from a private foundation to fund a new program designed to improve their Instructional Improvement Systems (IIS), and the two-year funding period is coming to a close. The state legislature wants to know if the program has worked and if its continuation should be funded. They want to know if the IIS program shows measurable gains among students who participated.
After states have worked tirelessly to implement their SLDS (statewide longitudinal data system), it might be a surprise to learn all of that effort was not about data. Sure, some of the exercises and process development dealt with data quality and management issues and so on, but the ultimate purpose was not to have better data. The ultimate goal of an SLDS is to impact student outcomes and improve the educational system. Providing data in one central location in a way that is usable to the stakeholders who need it is a catalyst for the type of change the education system needs to make smart improvements and change the equation ...