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By the Numbers: States Make Progress in Tracking Student Success



States are making headway in assessing student progress across the education spectrum, though key areas remain in need of improvement.
According to a recent survey by the Data Quality Campaign (DQC), states have made significant progress in developing longitudinal data systems to track student development from early childhood through 12th grade and into postsecondary education by implementing DQC’s 10 essential elements of a state data system.
Each year, the DQC surveys state education policy makers on their states’ progress toward implementing the DQC’s 10 essential elements for a comprehensive longitudinal data system. Knowing about these 10 areas—such as student-level enrollment data, student-level test data, and information on untested students—is critical to informing state leaders about the potential fault lines where policy interventions may be implemented.
The 2009–10 survey results show a significant increase in the number of states that have adopted these indicators of data quality since the survey was first implemented in 2005. However, results also indicate areas that still require improvements, including having a teacher identifier system with the ability to match teachers to students. Fewer than half of all states have a data mechanism to measure student performance with an identifier that matches students with teachers’ efforts. The DQC has a commitment from every state to install all 10 essential data elements by 2011.

Highlights from the Data Quality Campaign 2009–10 survey include the following:
  • All 50 states now use a statewide student identifier that remains with a student throughout his or her P–12 career.1 This represents an improvement from the 36 states in 2005 that had a statewide student identifier in place.
  • Thirty-three states now have the ability to follow student progress into postsecondary education. They can do so by connecting P–12 records of individual students with each state’s respective records in its state public higher education system (see chart).

Preparing students for rigorous postsecondary learning—and tracking their success at the P–12 level—can ultimately lead to higher levels of student success. But it also can reap gains for colleges and universities, which can minimize the costs associated with supporting under-prepared students.


1. Results include the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Idaho and North Carolina are the only two states without a statewide student identifier.