The Hunt Institute Releases New Report Examining State Longitudinal Data Systems

Durham, N.C.–School administrators and policymakers are increasingly relying on the use of data to make more informed decisions on today’s complex education systems. State education systems and agencies – from early childhood through college and career – often have separate data systems and report results indecently. By linking these various systems together, it is possible to make connections that span a student’s educational career.

Released today, The Hunt Institute’s latest report, “Connecting the Continuum: Longitudinal Data Systems in North Carolina,” specifically examines the history, purpose and future of a statewide longitudinal data system (SLDS) in North Carolina, and highlights lessons learned from other states.

By following a student’s academic career and connecting individual-level data over time and across agencies, researchers and policymakers can draw inferences about what types of programs and services are working well and identify disparities in performance among subgroups.

“While these data systems are complex, they are vital to informing administrators and policymakers about the many paths our young people take along their educational journeys,” said The Hunt Institute President & CEO Dr. Javaid Siddiqi. “As we found when examining the national SLDS landscape, these systems can provide meaningful, high-quality education data that give decision-makers a more complete picture of student learning.”

While no two statewide longitudinal data systems are identical, the report underscores the critical elements of a successful SLDS:  

  • Widespread policymaker support;
  • Meaningful agency collaboration;
  • High-Quality governance structure;
  • Robust privacy and security protocols;
  • Standardization of data;
  • Adequate technical infrastructure and dedicated human capital; and
  • Sustainable internal leadership.

As policymakers take a closer look at statewide longitudinal data systems to determine its effectiveness and functionality, a list of questions with supporting information can be found in the report.

“Through conversations with SLDS leaders across the country, we have seen that a lack of collaboration across state agencies can limit the success of an SLDS,” said Siddiqi. “However, policymakers are in the unique position to coalesce these stakeholders to build a system that can be sustained across multiple administrations, positively influencing the educational success of generations to come.”

North Carolina has a long history of building data systems that span the education continuum. This report highlights the history of these data systems, with a primary focus on the NCSchoolWorks system and the Education Longitudinal Data System (ELDS). The ELDS is overseen by the Government Data Analytics Center (GDAC) at the NC Department of Information Technology (DIT) and brings together data from the Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS), NCSchoolWorks and the Common Follow-up System.

An ELDS Working Group was established last year with support from the North Carolina Education Cabinet and has developed a number of key principles regarding system governance and continues to work with GDAC on progressing the state’s ELDS.

To view the full report, which was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, click here.