WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today introduced legislation that would improve state and district data systems integral to improve educational processes and outcomes for America's schools. Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) introduced companion legislation to Brown's bill in the U.S. House of Representatives today.
"Our nation's schools must perform better and at higher levels than ever before to prepare every student to graduate with the skills necessary for success in college and prepared for a career," Brown said. "Educators and policymakers increasingly recognize that better information is paramount in improving policy, practice, and student achievement."
Longitudinal data - data that shows how students perform over time - provides information that is crucial for collecting meaningful results and improving educational processes and outcomes. Establishing robust, longitudinal data systems to gather this type of data is integral to the success of many vital policy solutions currently on the table, including, but not limited to calculating accurate graduation rates, implementing growth models, measuring teacher effectiveness, and leveraging data-driven decision-making.
The METRICS Act of 2010 seeks to address these needs through two competitive programs:
Competitive grants to states: The bill authorizes $65 million in competitive grants to states to improve the use of their statewide data systems. Rather than use grant funding to build data systems, grantees will use funds to link data throughout the education pipeline and across state agencies, and improve access to and use of statewide data.
Competitive grants to districts: The bill authorizes $65 million for a new competitive program to low-income local education agencies (or consortia of local education agencies) with low-performing schools to help build the capacity to use data to improve student outcomes. Grantees would use funds to put in place a comprehensive plan to provide stakeholders with access to student education data, regularly analyze and share data, and improve school leaders' and educators' use of data. Grantees could also use funds to develop or improve upon local data systems and assessment tools. These activities would be required to be coordinated with state agency efforts and respect student privacy.
According to the national Data Quality Campaign annual survey, the majority of states are close to being capable of providing information on the ten essential elements of a longitudinal data system. This progress would not have been made without the support of federal funding. Since 2006, the federal Statewide Data Systems program has been appropriated $413 million and provided funds to 41 states.