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Developing a successful LDS is 80% planning and 20% building.

This book, Planning and Developing an LDS, is the second in a four-part series about longitudinal data systems (LDS). The first book, What is an LDS?, focused on the fundamental questions of what an LDS is (and what it is not), what steps should be taken to achieve a sound system, what components make up an ideal system, and why such a system is of value in education. The present installment discusses the early stages of LDS development, and will help state and local education agencies through the process of determining what they want to accomplish with their LDS and what they will need in order to achieve these goals. The organization's vision for an LDS should be heavily informed by the needs of a broad range of stakeholders. Throughout the systems development life cycle, policymakers and system developers need to engage in self-assessment, identifying the system they have before figuring out what type of system they want. Policymakers' requirements should be driven by the needs of the education community, the costs involved given the legacy system and staff, and the institutional support for the project. Planners should ensure project sustainability by creating interest and sustained buy-in, and by securing long-term funding. Procurement planning must be done, that is, lining up a vendor or building the staffing capacity to construct the system. In addition, having the right developers may not be enough: an informed commitment to building, using, and maintaining the LDS must permeate the organization to ensure longterm success. And, throughout the life of the system, thorough evaluation must be done on a regular basis to ensure continued data quality and user satisfaction.

Figure 1 lays out the major issues discussed in each of the four books in this series. For more information on the purpose, format, and intended audience groups of this series, see Book One of Four: What is an LDS?


Throughout this series, important terms and topics will be highlighted in sidebars. Notable subject matter will be easily identified by the following icons:

Definitions LDS lore
(fictional tales)
Key points
Bright ideas Tips District difference
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