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2006 Summer Data Conference Longitudinal Data Systems Strand



Across all sessions within the Longitudinal Data Systems (LDS) strand, at the July NCES Summer Data Conference in Washington, DC, were several common themes with respect to what state and district speakers found to be the necessary ingredients in developing and implementing effective and sustainable data systems. The first of the common themes was an emphasis on the ultimate function of longitudinal data systems: using longitudinal data to increase student achievement by informing education programs, curriculum, and instruction. As one presenter articulated, the data system is designed to guide conversations about how to meet educational goals and to encourage questions; building new (or enhancing existing) systems, another presenter noted, is not the answer in and of itself. After all, data must be understandable, accessible, usable, and used. Presenters from different states and districts seem to converge on a handful of LDS functions they deemed necessary to create a link between data and improved student learning:

  • Providing granular, longitudinal data to districts for their analysis and use, including student-level data (ideally with scores for each assessment item), aggregate data, and student data linked with other data domains.
  • Providing the data and analysis results to state and local stakeholders through an easy to access and use reporting tool.
  • Giving educators and administrators role-defined, online access to standard and customized reports.
  • Providing training to key state and local users of the LDS and professional development to teachers and administrators on how to use data to make instructional decisions and otherwise improve student outcomes.
  • Ensuring the quality of data used to inform decisions.

Most of the presenters also converged on a number of best practices involved in developing, implementing, and maintaining longitudinal data systems:

  • Managing and building support for longitudinal data system projects. Proactively keeping all key stakeholders (federal, state, and local) informed—assuring that they are aware of the LDS project and its long and short term goals, and are continually updated on its progress.
  • Truly engaging key stakeholders, including state program offices, district administrators, principals, teachers, parents, students, and other potential users in the design of the content and functionality of the LDS and of the reports and reporting tools provided from it. This includes organizing and energizing the stakeholder groups to support and engage in the LDS project, clearly articulating from the start the benefits and risks for everyone involved, and generating a concerted effort on the stakeholders’ part. Moving from a predominantly compliance/regulatory relationship with local stakeholders into a partnership with a shared vision.
  • Developing and communicating a clear and consistent vision for the LDS (including clear goals and objectives) and its outcomes to all stakeholders.
  • Employing project management practices (such as PMI standards) to organize and manage LDS projects, including clear project governance structures, statements of work to be performed (measures & accountability), and well-defined and communicated timelines for the project’s milestones and tasks (including start and end dates).
  • Defining and securing adequate dedicated resources.
  • Structuring LDS project team relationships with stakeholders based on the client-supplier model, where the LDS project team, which is the supplier, develops and delivers products and services to a “customer,” or client. The client may be another office within the SEA, legislature, an LEA, all principals, all teachers within a subject and grade, or an individual.
  • Building on existing systems and leveraging efforts/best practices of other districts, states, and national organizations.
  • Actively pursuing opportunities to provide services; share information; and publicize products, services, and capabilities.
  • Recognizing that changing the status quo is part of the process, that change is constant, and preparing to adapt to and keep ahead of the constant change: “IT’S NEVER OVER.”


Session I The Effective Use of Data to Improve Instruction

John Brainard, Pueblo School District No. 60, CO
Les Morse, Alaska Department of Education and Early Development


The power in longitudinal data systems lies in their ability to inform curriculum and classroom instruction to increase student achievement.  The panelists discussed their efforts in using student data to improve student achievement.  The assessment program in Pueblo District 60 is designed as a comprehensive assessment system that not only assesses student achievement, but also attempts to continuously improve the instructional program, utilizing classroom, district, and state assessments.  Alaska reorganized the assessment system to provide coherent and consistent information regarding individual student, group, and school achievement in a manner that is directly tied to the state-adopted standards and grade level expectations.


Download Zipped PowerPoint Presentations:
The Effective Use of Data to Improve Instruction - Les Morse Zip File (2.67 MB)
The Assessment and Value Added Information Used to Improve Instruction In Pueblo School District 60 - John Brainard Zip File (1.38 MB)

Session II The Effective Use of Data to Improve Instruction
 Cory Curl and Mary Reel, Tennessee Department of Education
Molly Schaeffer, Poway Unified School District, California

The power in longitudinal data systems lies in their ability to inform curriculum and classroom instruction to increase student achievement. The panelists discussed their efforts in using student data to improve student achievement. Poway Unified School District has put in place a customized web-enabled data system, paired with a benchmark-assessment tool, which guides the work of teachers in classrooms. Tennessee administrators and teachers use web-based data tools to inform curriculum and instructional strategies for accelerating student academic growth toward state learning standards and ACT college-readiness standards.


Download Zipped PowerPoint Presentations:
Improving Educational Outcomes with Data-Driven Conversations: The Effective Use of Data to Improve Instruction - Cory Curl and Mary Reel Zip File (784 KB)
The Effective Use of Data to Improve Instruction - Molly Schaeffer Zip File (1.71 MB)

Session III Best Practices in IT Project Management
 Marty Daybell, Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
Bob Bellamy, Better School Business

Typically, state education agencies as well as local education agencies are not staffed or equipped with adequate resources (personnel, environment, and skills) to undertake a large information technology project, such as the development of a comprehensive longitudinal student data system or educational data warehouse. This workshop presents key considerations and factors for success in the design, development, management, and delivery of these systems.


Download Zipped PowerPoint Presentation:
Best Practices in IT Project Management Zip File (174 KB)


Session IV Building Political Support and Will to Build and Use Longitudinal Data Systems
  Jay Pfeiffer, Florida Department of Education
Robert McGrath, Pennsylvania Department of Education

As a data manager, you understand and believe in the power of longitudinal systems, but in most states, educational longitudinal data have received little time in the policy and political spotlight. Hear how Florida and Pennsylvania have built champions for their data systems.


Download Zipped PowerPoint Presentation:
Developing Political Support and the Will to Build and Use Longitudinal Education Data Systems Zip File (922 KB)

Session V SEA Data Services to Districts
  Timothy Webb, Tennessee Department of Education
Howard Woodward, Georgia Department of Education

Tennessee was one of many states participating in the Council of Chief State School Officer’s Decision Support Architecture Consortium (DSAC). DSAC was tasked with conducting state specific analyses of existing data systems and providing recommendations for improvement. Through this model, state education agencies could support their local education agencies in designing and developing a Decision Support Architecture to improve efficiency and data quality at the local level. Georgia provides districts with data management and business intelligence services with both student and financial data. Soon they will link with a teaching/learning and assessment system.


Download Zipped PowerPoint Presentation:
SEA Data Services to Districts - Timothy Webb Zip File (12.5 KB)

Session VIInstitute of Education Sciences (IES) Student Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Grantee Reports

Representatives from the IES SLDS Grantee States

The Census Bureau will replace the decennial census long form with the American Community Survey (ACS), an effort designed to provide similar social and economic data each year instead of once every ten years. The ACS will provide summarized data for school districts, and the National Center for Education Statistics plans to produce additional ACS school district custom tabulations. These sources will provide a wealth of geographic and demographic data for school planners and administrators, and they offer great opportunity for educational spatial analysis. This presentation briefly discussed when ACS school district data will be available, what demographic characteristics will be provided, what will be included in the custom tabulations, and how these data will be useful for educational planning and decisionmaking.


Session VII The Effective Use of Data to Improve Instruction
  Todd Hughes, Durant Public Schools, Oklahoma
Joe Kitchens, Western Heights Public Schools, Oklahoma

The power in longitudinal data systems lies in their ability to inform curriculum and classroom instruction to increase student achievement. The presenters discussed their efforts in using student data to improve student achievement. The efforts in both Western Heights and Durant provide teachers, parents, administrators and other stakeholders with real time access to valued multi-source trend data that validates the efficacy of school improvement efforts.

Session VIIILinking K–12 and Postsecondary Data

Jeff Sellers and Lavan Dukes, Florida Department of Education
Roth Aymond, Louisiana Department of Education

This workshop illustrated the process Florida and Louisiana went through to design their PK–20 data linkages, and the process for collecting data and how to establish links between the different data sources of PK–12 and postsecondary. Additionally, examples of some practical uses of this process were presented, demonstrating how a longitudinal database can be used to empower decisionmakers.

Download Zipped PowerPoint Presentations:
Linking K–12 and Postsecondary Data - Jeff Sellers and Lavan Dukes Zip File (248 KB)
Louisiana Department of Education: Reaching for Results - Roth Aymond Zip File (1.08 MB)

Session IXUsing State Databases to Identify School and District Improvement

Joseph McCrary, U.S. Department of Education
Susan Hanes, Council of Chief State School Officers
Thomas Kerins, Center on Innovation and Improvement

This panel discussion demonstrated various examples of how assessment data can be used to identify areas of strength and weakness in student achievement and education program areas. These examples include how assessment data can be analyzed to find improving schools and districts as well as to measure program effectiveness. One such study, being conducted by the Center for Innovation and Improvement, relies on state assessment data to identify improving school districts. Follow-ups with surveys to identify district practices that contributed to these achievement gains will be conducted. The data used are collected by the American Institute for Research for the U.S. Department of Education. Other examples of data that can be used for identifying improving schools and districts include statewide longitudinal data systems being developed in collaboration with the Institute of Education Sciences and the National Center for Education Statistics. Emphasis was placed on the need for quality data for decisionmaking and the importance of involving stakeholders in the development of data systems.

Download Zipped PowerPoint Presentations:
The National Longitudinal School-Level State Assessment Score Database - Joseph McCrary Zip File (22.6 KB)
Using State Databases to Identify School and District Improvement - Susan Hanes Zip File (233 KB)
Using State Databases to Identify School and District Improvement - Thomas Kerins Zip File (279 KB)


Sessions X & XI Data Quality Roundtables

Data Quality Campaign Representatives

Participants gleaned the best thinking and practices from their colleagues from states and districts around the issues most on their mind. This participant-directed, interactive session of simultaneous roundtable discussions touched on the topics that have been emerging in the efforts of the Data Quality Campaign (DQC). The DQC is a national, collaborative effort to encourage and support state policymakers to improve the collection, availability, and use of high-quality education data, and implement state longitudinal data systems to improve student achievement. The DQC facilitated roundtable discussions on topics such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, data warehouses, data transfers among systems, relationships with vendors, hiring effective data managers, and other topics participants were burning to discuss.