Skip Navigation
A Publication of the National Center for Education Statistics at IES

Data, Measures, and Methods

Data. This brief presents findings from the 2018 SLDS Survey, the second year of the annual survey. The response rate increased from 82 percent (46 states and territories) in 2017 to 91 percent (51 of 56 states and territories) in 2018. All state education agencies (SEAs) eligible to receive SLDS grants received the SLDS Survey, including SEAs from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

NCES sent letters to the SLDS project director in each SEA asking them to participate in the survey. Respondents completed the 48-question survey via a fillable PDF sent electronically to each SEA. Survey respondents were not necessarily the SLDS project directors; in some cases, other SEA staff members responded or assisted in the response. In rare instances, staff members from partner organizations responded because some states and territories host SLDSs outside of the SEA. The survey collected information both on the respondents, including their titles and additional stakeholders consulted, and on the capacity of the SLDS.

Broadly speaking, K–12 data include data about students, educators, and schools. The SLDS Survey asks respondents whether their SLDSs contain specific types of K–12 data, such as student enrollment and assessment results. Postsecondary data include information related to institutions of higher education, from institutional data like tuition and fees to student data such as admission and completion. Workforce data include wages and employment statistics and can come from a variety of sources at the state and local levels. Perkins CTE data focus on programs offered and student participation, completion, transitions, and outcomes. Finally, early childhood education data include data about providers of and participation in early childhood education services.

Measures. Respondents are asked to indicate whether a data type or capability is operational, in progress, planned, or not planned. The survey defines "operational" as fully functional and available for its intended users. "In progress" is defined as currently being built or implemented as part of the SLDS but not yet fully operational. "Planned" data types and capabilities are those that the state or territory intends to include in its SLDS and for which it has a documented plan and funding source, but has not yet begun to implement. "Not planned" indicates that the state or territory currently has not planned or included this data or capability in its SLDS. "Not planned" also indicates items that are not applicable to a state or territory's SLDS. In response to feedback and questions received about the 2017 survey, additional definitions were provided at the end of the 2018 survey.

Methods. This report presents aggregate summary statistics of states' and territories' SLDS capacity based only on the responses received. Skip logic implemented in the survey automatically populated the response "not planned" for some questions. For example, where respondents indicated that connections between certain data types were not planned, all questions about those connections were automatically given a response of "not planned." A response was considered "not answered" if it was missing. Because the questions included a "not answered" category, all percentages are derived from the 51 state and territory respondents for the 2018 survey.

One limitation of the survey is that the skills, resources, and expertise of the respondents could vary across the states and territories, affecting their responses. In the data use section in particular, knowledge of how other stakeholders use SLDS data could vary. Additionally, changes in the respondent from a state or territory from year to year may limit the ability to understand trends over time.

For more information about the data, measures, and methods used in this brief, please see the Methodology and Technical Notes section at the end of the report.