P-20W Data

Maryland Using Data to Ensure Student Success in College and Careers

Maryland Using Data to Ensure Student Success in College and Careers
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MLDS Center: Using Data to Ensure Student Success in College and Careers

Since 2009 Maryland has seen no increase in the percentage of high school graduates enrolled in college within 16 months of graduation. Despite an overall increase in college enrollment, the rate for recent high school graduates has remained flat, from 69.4 percent in 2009 to 69.0 percent in 2011. The good news is that Maryland can see this trend, analyze it, and address it thanks to the Maryland Longitudinal Data System (MLDS), which launched in January 2013.

Maryland Longitudinal Data System

In 2010 Maryland policymakers asked how they could determine whether Maryland high school students were graduating college- and career-ready. To answer this question, they passed Chapter 190—legislation supporting the development of the MLDS Center, a statewide data system that would show how all Maryland students are performing and whether or not they are graduating high school prepared for college and the workforce. The goal of MLDS is to provide Maryland policymakers, educators, parents, and researchers with timely and useful data on students, schools, districts and institutions, as well as education and workforce programs. Maryland believes that with the MLDS, key stakeholders will be empowered to make data-driven decisions that will lead to more effective use of resources and ultimately to higher achievement by all Maryland students.

We can already see the early results of Maryland’s hard work. Now, on www.mldscenter.org, the public can access data tables and dashboards that answer questions like, “Are we producing the right degrees for Maryland jobs?” and “Are Maryland’s high school graduates college-ready?” Enhancements will continue over the following year and include the establishment and staffing of the MLDS Center and a fully functional and user-friendly online system.

Role of the State

The creation and operation of MLDS would not be possible without the efforts and capabilities of the Maryland state government. The MLDS Center is created through collaboration among Maryland state agencies and university departments, namely the School of Social Work and College of Education at the University of Maryland, the Maryland State Department Education (MSDE), the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC), and the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation. This coalition capitalizes on the strengths and abilities of each partner organization to provide the best data services, management, research, and program evaluation required by stakeholders. Three associate directors, one each from MSDE, MHEC, and the university partnership, will share in the management of the MLDS Center. All three state agencies will have a dedicated staff position within the center. This model allows the MLDS Center to remain integrated with the state’s agencies while drawing on the resources of the University of Maryland.

Additionally, legislation mandated the creation of the MLDS Governing Board to provide general oversight, ensure public transparency, establish the state’s policy and research agenda, and oversee privacy and security policies and implementation. The board has proven to be a critical strategy for engaging the state’s top policymakers in cross-agency discussion.

This governance structure has been pivotal to Maryland’s development of this comprehensive statewide system. No single agency or organization could have created a system that would be as effective in utilizing and reporting on so many kinds of data on such a large proportion of individuals. The collaboration of all partners is essential to the sustainable success of the system.

Evidence of Impact

In 2010 Governor Martin O’Malley was awarded Data Quality Campaign’s Recognition Award for his leadership in developing the legislation that would create the MLDS. Governor O’Malley stressed the importance of education data in improving Maryland’s school performance: “We owe it to our students, parents, teachers, and administrators to uphold the highest standards of accountability and transparency, and that starts with establishing quality education data systems to ensure Maryland students graduate high school prepared for college and highly skilled careers.”