States Collect Information on Students, Report Says, but Don’t Use It Enough

States have made steady advances in building data systems that can track the progress of individual students from preschool through college and into the work force. But most states are not yet using that information to guide policies on improving education, according to a report on a national survey released on Friday.

The report is from the Data Quality Campaign, an effort begun in 2005 through the efforts of 10 education groups to press states to collect and use information on student performance. The campaign says states are largely succeeding in gathering the data: Forty-six states have put in place at least eight of the 10 benchmarks the organization has set for such systems. Those standards include the ability to match individual teachers with individual students’ classroom performance and to follow students from the elementary and secondary systems into college.

The most progress in tracking student achievement, the survey found, has been made in the Southeast, where eight states have put all 10 of the campaign’s standards in place.

But having data doesn’t help if states aren’t sharing the information with decision makers and using it to drive their policies, the campaign says, and that is where states continue to fall short.

For example, only nine states share reports on individual students with their teachers, the survey found, and no state yet has policies to train teachers in how to access, analyze, and use the data on student achievement to improve their work in the classroom.

The report says now is the ideal time to move forward with recommendations to use the information to improve student learning because that is one of the four requirements of receiving billions of dollars in federal stimulus money through the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.

The report, "States’ Actions to Leverage Data to Improve Student Success," will be available on the campaign’s Web site.

THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION

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