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States Expanded Availability and Uses of Student K-12 Data, New Report Says

The number of states that provide data to parents allowing them to track their children's academic progress has more than doubled in the last three years from eight to 17, while more than 100 bills designed to better safeguard student data were considered in states, according to a recent report from the Washington-based Data Quality Campaign.

The "Data for Action 2014" report from the group, which advocates for the availability and use of student data to improve K-12 achievement, was released Wednesday. It catalogues how an increasing number of states is working to expand access to data among teachers, parents, and across state agencies, including those dealing with workforce and economic issues.

"The story really is a very positive one," said Aimee Guidera, the founder and executive director of the group, in a conference call with reporters.

For its report, the campaign lists 10 "state actions" that the group believes will help states and public schools better utilize data and share information more broadly and appropriately with the general public. Within each of those 10 categories there are also sub-categories where states can show that they are using data more effectively, according to DQC.

The group compared 2014 to 2011 when analyzing how many states were meeting those 10 recommended actions. The group announced that this year Kentucky became the third state to meet all of those actions, joining Arkansas and Delaware—the group noted that in 2011, Kentucky had completed just two of the 10 recommended actions. Among those actions are:

Link state K-12 data systems with early learning, postsecondary, workforce, and other critical state agency data systems

Nineteen states have completed this action in 2014, DQC said, compared to 11 in 2011. However, 43 states do share and match K-12 data with postsecondary data annually, compared to 38 three years ago. Interestingly, the number of states that do the same for K-12 and early childhood data dipped from 46 to 43.

The number of states (19) that do this matching for K-12 and workforce data remains relatively low, and Guidera said this remained one of the biggest challenges when it comes to using data across sectors.

Develop governance structures to guide data collection and use

The number of states completing this action rose from 36 in 2011 to 42 this year. In one sub-category, 43 states had cross-agency data governance committees with some form of authoriy in 2014, compared to 39 three years ago.

Create progress reports with student-level data for educators, students, and parents

Thirty-five states now do this in some form, compared to 29 in 2011. Forty-two states now produce reports that utilize student-level longitudinal data.

The privacy of student data could continue to be a major issue in state legislatures in 2015, as it was in 2014, when several states restricted how student data could be used in a variety of ways. Meanwhile, Google's data-mining of student users' emails through its Apps for Education has highlighted ongoing concerns about how companies will treat student data when they deal with public schools. 

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