Skip Navigation

Appendix C: Additional Resources


A Policymaker's Guide to the Value of Longitudinal Student Data

Dougherty, C. (2002). Education Commission of the States.

This brief provides a quick summary of the uses and value of longitudinal data. It also lists some questions that only longitudinal data can help us answer.

Measuring What Matters: Creating a Longitudinal Data System to Improve Student Achievement

Data Quality Campaign (DQC 2007).

This brochure reviews state progress toward building longitudinal data systems (LDS), and discusses the benefits and possibilities of these systems. It includes the direction of state data systems (e.g., finance data linked to students and programs, links to social services and employment data, and interstate transfer of data through use of common standards), the rationale for building LDSs and the benefits they provide, and a review of national progress toward each of the Data Quality Campaign's (DQC) "Ten Essential Elements."

Judging Student Achievement: Why Getting the Right Data Matters

MPR Inc. and National Center for Educational Achievement (NCEA 2005).

This policy brief reviews some of the benefits of longitudinal data over the cross-sectional data used to-date in education. These include the ability to assess student academic growth and proficiency over time; monitor student mobility, retention, and attrition; examine prior achievement for all student subgroups; and predict future student achievement.

Every Student Counted: Using Longitudinal Data Systems To Calculate the National Governors Association's High School Graduation Rate and Improve Student Success

Data Quality Campaign (DQC 2007).

To calculate the National Governors Association's (NGA) graduation rate, states need to have an LDS that provides the ability to track individual students from year to year, and across campuses and districts. This article outlines the benefits and need for LDSs in this area.

Tapping into the Power of Longitudinal Data: A Guide for School Leaders

Data Quality Campaign (DQC 2008).

This article explores the advantages that longitudinal data afford teachers and principals, in contrast to snapshot data. It presents "six key uses of longitudinal data": progress monitoring, diagnosis and prescription, internal benchmarking, external benchmarking, predictive analysis, and evaluation.

Getting the Evidence for Evidence-Based Initiatives: How the Midwest States Use Data Systems to Improve Education Processes and Outcomes

Issues and Answers Report (REL 2007–No. 016). U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest.

This report reviews the progress of several midwestern states in developing LDSs and using data systems in general. Based on interviews with state education agency (SEA) officials and federal agency staff, the authors review the work that has been done, the challenges that have been faced, and the current requirements being pursued by the states.

Data Use Drives School and District Improvement

Quarterly Issue Brief (Sept. 2006). Data Quality Campaign (DQC).

Although data can be used by school systems in myriad ways to promote systemwide success, this DQC brief focuses specifically on how stakeholders at all levels can support access to, and use of, a student's academic history to adjust instruction and meet the student's needs.

Redefining Student Data Access Policy

Hill, E. Legislative Analyst's Office (LEA 2008)

See pages 5–7 of this document for a brief discussion of the uses and benefits of an LDS.

Questionnaire for Teacher Specialists

South Carolina Department of Education (2007)

This questionnaire was used to determine the value (to teachers) of specific data elements for the state's data warehouse.

Harnessing the Potential for Research of Existing Student Records Databases: An Action Agenda

National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS 2005).

This document is the result of a 2005 meeting of academic researchers and individuals responsible for several state student unit record systems (SUR). It explores the potential benefits of SURs and some issues associated with their development and use.

Building and Using Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems: Implications for Policy

Data Quality Campaign (DQC 2007).

This is a brief summary of potential benefits of an LDS, as well as the requirements of a good one. It summarizes state progress and reasons for the recent rapid increase of LDSs. A discussion of the barriers for the development and use of LDSs is included.

Longitudinal Student Data in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Dougherty, C. National Center for Educational Accountability (NCEA)

This article outlines the ways an LDS can help education agencies achieve the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). It also outlines scenarios under which an LDS might be funded by the federal government. (While not required by the law, LDSs are encouraged in some passages.)

Creating a Longitudinal Data System: Using Data to Improve Student Achievement

Data Quality Campaign (DQC 2006)

See this document's appendix for state education agency action steps towards implementing the DQC's "10 essential elements."

The Case for a Longitudinal Student Data System in California

Spinetta, A. and Sankaran, I. (2002) EJournal of Education Policy, EDLP 225. California State University, Sacramento.

This brief policy paper argues the case for developing an LDS, citing a host of benefits from student tracking to policy analysis. It considers several states' systems, security, and student identifiers.

Other Resources

National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER)

The National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER) is a research program of the Urban Institute and several universities. Visit for some examples of research made possible by the availability of longitudinal student data. The main focus of CALDER is to examine "how state and local policies, especially teacher policies, governance policies, and accountability policies affect teachers (e.g., who teaches what students) and students (e.g., academic achievement and attainment)." In addition to housing a large collection of publications, the site also provides links to several longitudinal state databases.

IES Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems Grant Programs

This site contains downloadable abstracts of the work grantee states of the IES Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Grant Program are completing with the help of their grant, along with each state's original grant application.

In the News…

Finding Your Way in a Data-Driven World

Davis, M. (2008) Digital Direction 01 (03). Education Week.

This article provides a glimpse of how some districts are using their LDSs and sophisticated analysis tools to help students. It also offers some important lessons learned from leaders in LDS development.

New Number-Crunching Links Teachers to Test Scores

Alpert, E. (2008). Voice of San Diego. Posted in Education, Sept. 06.

This article reports on breakthroughs made possible with longitudinal, student-level data. Interviews highlight the benefits of these data, including saving staff significant amounts of work and making data available promptly to inform decisionmaking. The piece also discusses some of the controversies that surround the use of these data, including fears about merit pay and job security. Concerns are also voiced about the value of standardized tests and their accuracy in assessing student and teacher performance.