State needs four more “essential elements” for good data tracking, report says

New York State’s student data tracking system lacks several key elements needed to make it effective, according to a report released today.

The elements New York lacks, according to the report by the Data Quality Campaign:

  • transcript-level information on what courses students take and how they fare;
  • information about which students take tests like the SAT and AP exams, and their scores;
  • a way to follow K-12 students into college to track how they perform after graduating;
  • and a way to match teachers to students by classroom and by subject.

State education officials told surveyors they plan to implement the first three of those measures by the 2011-12 school year.

But the state reported no plans to link students’ achievement data back to their teachers. New York currently has a law barring the use of student test scores in tenure decisions, and a state’s ability to evaluate teachers according to student performance weighs heavily in the competition for federal Race to the Top grant money. State officials have said that they do use student data to learn about what classroom practices are effective.

The Data Quality Campaign is an initiative launched by a group of education and legislative organizations meant to help states build up their data tracking systems. The group has surveyed the education departments of each state since 2005 to draw a picture of what kinds of student information school systems gather and how they use it to boost student achievement. The campaign then compares each state’s system against a list of ten elements they call “essential” for robust data tracking.

You can see the full report here. It includes a breakdown of what New York State’s data collection systems do and don’t track, as well as comparisons with other states.