Expertise | Information Technology
Arkansas Department of Education:
Building a Statewide Longitudinal Data System
In November 2005, with help from Metis Associates, the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Institute for Education Sciences (IES) to construct a statewide longitudinal data system. Arkansas was one of 13 state education authorities to attain this highly competitive grant, in the amount of $3.3 million over three years. The project has greatly advanced the capacity of Arkansas' data systems to provide information to support decision making at all levels of the education enterprise.
To develop the IES application, Metis conducted in-depth research into Arkansas' K-12 information-systems environment, national standards, and best practices in the field, and reviewed the status of work that was already under way to address many of the grant objectives. Arkansas' data systems were generally satisfactory; however, their "siloed" character diminished the value of the stored information because of the considerable effort required to design and conduct cross-system analyses. The new longitudinal data system brings together nearly all education data in a common environment, based on the use of Cognos data warehouse technologies, and aggregates student information in a longitudinal form using a new unique student identifier, so that cross-system and cross-year data are immediately accessible. The dissemination of data with an easy browser-based interface and provision of business intelligence tools that can be accessed directly by administrators, educators, and researchers has simplified access to this information.
In 2008, Metis helped the ADE secure a second three-year LDS grant from IES, which will enable Arkansas to extend the data from kindergarten through age 20 and focus on improved strategies to help teachers and administrators use these data to enhance teaching and learning. Metis will continue to assist the ADE in implementing this system, providing project-management support, data-quality assurance, and evaluation services.