Data Systems

Many state education agencies (SEAs) have begun to move beyond collecting and reporting data for mainly compliance purposes to recognizing the value and utility of cross-sector, longitudinal data for continuous improvement and education equity. National efforts supporting SEAs to make this shift began in earnest in 2005 and, most recently, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) endorses such an approach.

ESSA asks states to assess student and school success and growth using more robust measures than before, for example for student subgroups not previously required including students who are homeless, in foster care, and have active duty military parents or guardians. It is the intent of ESSA to ensure greater transparency and understanding of education gaps and equity for all students via state collection and reporting of disaggregated data and the use of cross-tabulation analyses.

States must broaden the types of data they collect, the systems within which they capture the data, and the linkages that can be made through their statewide data systems. As SEAs design, manage, and sustain their cross-sector, longitudinal data systems, align with local education agency (LEA) data systems, and enhance efforts for greater use of the data, they will benefit from specialized technical knowledge from peers and national subject matter experts.

SEAs and other stakeholders that engage and collaborate in this community of practice (CoP) will have an opportunity to:

  • Understand the provisions for data disaggregation and the use of cross-tabulation analyses in ESSA;
  • Design and implement approaches to meeting the federal provisions, using federal guidance and other expertise;
  • Implement methods to improve internal data control, coherence, collection, and analysis of subgroup populations, including cross-sector partnerships that manage needed student characteristic data;
  • Implement methods to improve the quality of disaggregated data (by addressing data accuracy, timeliness of reporting, and missing data) used for state accountability, report cards, and continuous improvement; and
  • Participate in the development of written guidance for SEAs and LEAs to collect, analyze, and report high quality student subgroup data, including report templates that meet ESSA requirements.