Culture Change

LDSs have the potential to change our relationship with data, revolutionizing the way the education community thinks about, and uses, information. By improving data quality and increasing the speed at which agencies return data to districts and schools for use in decisionmaking and instructional improvement, an LDS can open the door to many new possibilities for managing learning. At the local level, these systems, when accompanied with the requisite training, can transform technology wary teachers into empowered data consumers who use data to gain valuable insight into their students' needs and help tailor instruction to better meet those needs. Principals, district administrators, state policymakers, and other decisionmakers can use detailed, longitudinal data to determine which programs and policies work (and which do not), identify systemic problems, and allocate resources more efficiently. LDSs can turn staff who spend their days entering data into users who have time to turn the information into action for their schools and students. And, because an LDS can make data useful and accessible to the local education community, shifting data from a compliance burden to a universal resource, staff will have more reason to ensure the information is of high quality. Education researchers can expand their toolkit from trying to draw conclusions from cross-sectional, aggregate data to using individual-level, longitudinal data to get more valid and reliable results. In all of these ways, we see that LDSs not only require, but also inspire, new approaches to considering and using education information.