Part I - Governing the Data

While certain other sectors have long benefited from good data governance, the education community is relatively new to the concept. Every education agency has some means of handling its data but, historically, many have grown multiple, program area-specific approaches and cultures rather than implement a coherent, wellorchestrated, enterprise-wide system of data governance. Moreover, responsibility for data has too often been unclear or misplaced. For example, data ownership has often been placed with technology staff, who are already responsible for the infrastructure that collects, stores, and shares the data; rather than with program area specialists who have a deeper understanding of the data. This reality, despite its inefficiencies, may have worked well enough when data were only used for compliance purposes. However, the old processes for managing education data must change as the goal of education information systems continues to expand to providing broad access to, and facilitating effective use of, the data. By helping to create greater order, focus, and efficiency, the implementation of a strategic, enterprise-wide system of data governance can help agencies meet their modern goals of data-informed education.

Establishing data governance is crucial to LDS success and should ideally be the first step in the system’s development—before implementation begins, before plans are even drawn up. A major effort like LDS implementation expands data quantity and access, and heightens the need for data quality and security. Therefore, a coordinated approach to identifying data issues, creating solutions, and communicating decisions is critical to meeting stakeholder needs. Developing an LDS may allow your agency to collect, maintain, and share data; but without the right policies, processes, and staff in place to ensure quality, these data may be problematic. Data governance is crucial to LDS success, as it creates a culture of accountability, collaboration, and standardization around information. No surprise, then, that LDS development often spurs interest in data governance and provides the opportunity for an agency to spend the time and resources necessary to implement a strong data governance process.


District difference

Data governance at the state and district levels will look very similar. In fact, the information offered in these chapters should be easily transferable to the local level with just one minor and obvious tweak: when involving data suppliers in the process, representatives will come from schools rather than districts.


LDS Lore:

Data governance, ASAP

The agency had planned its ideal system and hired a vendor to build it. Eventually however, staff began to question the quality of the agency’s new student-level data being collected and housed. The agency’s effort to integrate records from multiple sources was exposing countless inconsistencies and inaccuracies, and it became apparent that potential users would shun the data if they didn’t trust them, and rightfully so. Several data-sharing blunders had already occurred, potentially exposing sensitive personal student and teacher information. In addition, while demand for the new data was high and continued to increase, the staff were having trouble keeping up and data request processing was erratic and slow. The LDS investment would be wasted if these problems persisted, and something had to be done to improve data quality and secure the agency’s information assets.