Traveling Through Time: The Forum Guide to Longitudinal Data Systems, Book I: What is an LDS?
By facilitating the collection and use of detailed, high quality student- and staff-level data linked over time, longitudinal data systems (LDSs) hold promise for enhancing both the way education agencies use data to serve students and the way they do business, from the policy level to the school office and into the classroom. This document, the first installment of a four-part Forum guide series on LDSs, focuses 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 full series is intended to help state and local education agencies meet the many challenges involved in building robust LDSs, populating them with quality data, and using this new information to improve the education system. The series includes Book II: Planning and Developing an LDS, Book III: Effectively Managing LDS Data, and Book IV: Advanced LDS Usage.