We (Virginians) are not alone. In 2009, the U.S. Department of Education released a fact sheet stating that 41 states nation-wide were given grants of up to $265 million to develop “longitudinal data systems to capture, analyze, and use student data from preschool to high school, college, and the workforce.”
Much like Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) in other states, the Virginia Longitudinal Data System (VLDS) is designed collect information from Virginia school systems and workforce to create a cohesive database useful to publics such as educators, policymakers, and researchers. This information is collected continuously over long periods of time to capture the progress of students from kindergarten all the way to their first job experiences. Although a student’s personal information (name, social security number, etc.) cannot be accessed by researchers, collective data about groups of individuals will be tracked and analyzed for educational development.
As mentioned before, we are not alone in the quest for the betterment of education. States like Illinois, Oregon, and Michigan have proceeded with implementing SLDS’s for research and educational system assessments. Closer to us, the District of Columbia created a Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System (SLED) as well. Even Hawaii initiated efforts in creating an SLDS. Participation from fellow states within the US makes the movement towards maximizing educational research monumental.
The Institute of Education Sciences (IES)’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)—apart of the U.S. Department of Education—opens it’s “About” page with a thought provoking quote: “Better decisions require better information.” This is quite an appropriate quote as Virginia has access to incredible tools to produce groundbreaking educational research, yet no cohesive system collect and analyze the potential data.
In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was signed into existence by President Obama proving more funding for LDS research to improve America’s educational opportunities. Federal funding opportunities like this have jump-started initiatives for states across the U.S. to create SLDS’s and further motivates Virginia to begin research to better statewide educational systems.
Educational excellence should be a standard in Virginia school systems, not a dream. With top of the line research using data collected from the beginning of a student’s academic career to their first workforce experiences, the VLDS could offer a broad range of positive opportunities. What positive research or opportunities can you see developing as a result of implementing a statewide longitudinal data system in Virginia?