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What is the Purpose of these LDS Guides?

The goal of this guide series is to help education agencies overcome obstacles and effectively plan, build, and/or improve their LDSs.

Many challenges stand in the way of building a good LDS, achieving high quality data, and using this new information effectively. These guides were developed to help state and local education agencies overcome these obstacles and efficiently plan, build, and/or improve their LDSs. Each book in the series offers guidance for developers at various levels of an education agency, providing both an overall perspective and a close-up view. The scope is broad, covering a wide range of key concepts and activities, offering best practices and lessons learned from state and district staff, and noting procedural and structural benchmarks for an organization to reference throughout the planning and development process.

In reality, there is no one way to build an LDS and no two such systems are alike. Each education organization takes its own path to its own version of an LDS, fulfilling its own specific set of goals. For example, some agencies will build a data warehouse, while others will not; some will hire vendors, while others will do the work in-house. Thus, these guides do not present a rigid list of steps that must be followed in order to develop a successful LDS. Rather, this series is intended to provide readers with thought-provoking questions and concepts in order to build solutions that meet their organization's specific challenges and needs.

With special emphasis on the business-level perspective, these guides address many issues to consider about planning, developing, and maximizing the benefits of an LDS. Agencies should establish a process of data governance to ensure that the data they collect will be of high quality. These guides also cover the need to carefully plan the system in detail, gathering input from all interested parties, constructing a sound foundation, building upward, and putting the system to good use.