Crisis Data Management: A Forum Guide to Collecting and Managing Data About Displaced Students
NCES 2010-804
February 2010

Chapter 5. Data Challenges—When a Statewide Student Information System (Sis) Has Not Been Established

The type of student data collection system a state has will directly affect statewide implementation of crisis data elements and tables and, ultimately, the statewide collection of crisis data. Some states are moving towards a statewide student information system (SIS), allowing districts to either directly use or connect to a state-run individual student data collection system. These states have an advantage when dealing with any change in their data needs because modifications can be made once at the state level and then be available to all districts with minimal effort. Because a statewide SIS also makes student data available to the state immediately (or almost immediately), detailed crisis information will be available as soon as a crisis is declared and data entry begins. Data quality is also improved by the ability to have centralized cross-district checks and feedback verification reports for the districts.

Many states that do not have a statewide SIS nevertheless have a system that allows districts to share individual student data with the state at various collection times during a school year. In this case, deploying statewide data collection changes will require districts and their vendors to modify their individual systems, which can be difficult to accomplish in a timely fashion. Once the districts are in compliance with the changes, these states will benefit from having student-level crisis data if a statewide crisis is declared. However, infrequent collection timelines could prove to be detrimental when immediate decisionmaking is required at the state level. States with a statewide SIS or an individual student record system also have the capability to report to the federal government on behalf of their districts, which can substantially decrease the data burden placed on LEAs.

States that rely only on statewide aggregate data collections lack the flexibility they will need during a crisis. After the hurricanes of 2005, for example, authorities had to target immediate aid and other resources based on weekly aggregate student counts. These counts were understood to be less than accurate because they were not current. Thus, under most crisis scenarios, agencies with statewide individual student-level data will be in a better position to respond to new demands than will states with only aggregate collection systems.