Better decisions require better information. This principle lies at the heart of the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Grant Program. Through grants and a growing range of services and resources, the program has helped propel the successful design, development, implementation, and expansion of K12 and P-20W (early learning through the workforce) longitudinal data systems. These systems are intended to enhance the ability of States to efficiently and accurately manage, analyze, and use education data, including individual student records. The SLDSs should help states, districts, schools, educators, and other stakeholders to make data-informed decisions to improve student learning and outcomes; as well as to facilitate research to increase student achievement and close achievement gaps.
As authorized by the Educational Technical Assistance Act of 2002, Title II of the statute that created the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the SLDS Grant Program has awarded competitive, cooperative agreement grants to states since 2005. These grants extend for three to five years for up to twenty million dollars per grantee. Grantees are obligated to submit annual reports and a final report on the development and implementation of their systems. All 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia are eligible to apply. In November of 2005, the first year of the grant program, IES awarded SLDS grants to 14 states (FY 2006 grantees). SLDS grants were awarded to 12 additional states and the District of Columbia in June 2007 (FY 2007 grantees), 27 states in March 2009 (FY 2009 grantees), and 20 states in May 2010 (FY 2009 ARRA grantees). The latest grantees were announced in May 2012 (FY 2012 grantees)—a total of 24 grants were awarded including 8 first-time grantees.
In addition to the grants, the program offers many services and resources to assist education agencies with SLDS-related work. Best practices, lessons learned, and non-proprietary products/solutions developed by recipients of these grants and other states are disseminated to aid state and local education agencies.