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How to Make Permanent Records Actually Permanent

By Matt Bolch | May , 2007

Coming soon to a state near you: every student’s performance will be forever electronically documented as they move from prekindergarten through postsecondary education. The records, known as longitudinal data (LD)—technology-speak for accessible and transferable permanent student records—will allow educators to see over time what works best in improving student achievement.

The Data Quality Campaign and the National Center for Educational Accountability (NCEA) conducted a survey about state data systems to determine the number of states that have built the infrastructure to tap into the power of longitudinal data. Although each state’s educational system is unique, there are 10 essential elements critical to a longitudinal data system:

1. A statewide student identifier that connects student data across key databases through the years
2. A Student-level enrollment, demographic, and program participation information
3. The ability to track an individual student’s test records from year to year to measure academic growth
4. Information on untested students and the reasons they were not tested
5. A teacher identifier system with the ability to match teachers to students
6. Student-level transcripts, including information on courses completed and grades earned
7. Student-level college-readiness-test-score data
8. Student-level graduation and dropout data
9. The ability to match PreK–12 student records to higher education record systems
10.A data audit system assessing data quality, validity, and reliability

To find out how far along your state is, check the map to see how many of the essential elements each state has, based on responses to the 2006 NCEA survey.

About the Author

Matt Bolch, based in Atlanta, specializes in business and technology.

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