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Teacher Database Critical for Calif. Recruitment, Retention Efforts, Analysts Say

Ten years after California legislators passed a bill creating a database to get a better handle on its teaching force, the Golden state remains one of only a handful of states not to have such a database.

The California Longitudinal Teacher Integrated Data Education System (CALTIDES)—a database that would track every teacher and aspiring teacher by issuing them 10-digit state-educator identification numbers—was supposed to be used for "developing and reviewing state policy, identifying workforce trends, and identifying future needs regarding the teaching workforce."

But it was scuttled after two governors, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democrat Jerry Brown, deemed it a poor use of scarce resources. Now, five years after Gov. Brown's line-item veto, the state's Legislative Analyst's Office is calling for the project to be revived, saying the information from CALTIDES would be invaluable in the fight against the looming teacher shortage.

"Many questions legislators have cannot, in turn, be answered well or at all," the report concludes. "For example, the state does not have reliable data on the retention rates of intern-prepared teachers compared to traditionally prepared teachers, nor does the state have data on the retention rates of its special education teachers relative to STEM teachers or these teachers relative to other teachers."

Brad Strong, senior director of education policy for the nonprofit Children Now, told EdSource that without that data, lawmakers are being forced to "fly blind" when assessing the effectiveness of efforts to recruit and retain teachers.

The 2006 bill that created CALTIDES also created a similar students database called the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System or CALPADS—both were designed to bring the state in line with the requirements of No Child Left Behind. But after technical glitches plagued the rollout of the $42 million CALPADS, many began to question the necessity of the $11 million CALTIDES. When he vetoed CALTIDES in 2011, Gov. Brown released a statement saying he was doing so to "avoid the development of a costly technology program that is not critical."

The state's teachers union, the California Teachers Association, has not come out against CALTIDES. While the 2006 bill authorizing the creation of the database prohibited using the data from either CALPADS or CALTIDES for making pay, promotion, or other employment decisions, a 2009 bill upended that ban. The CTA didn't come out against the 2009 bill because, they said, teacher and student data were already being linked at the district level for teacher evaluation purposes, and that the new bill did nothing to change that. 


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