Texas Leads the Charge for State-of-the-Art State-Level Reporting
Texas has over 1,000 school districts and each had systems for collecting and analyzing data. Up until recently, teachers didn’t have access to good data because there was no timely state system of reports tailored for educators. At the same time, districts were legally obliged to submit data to the state through a system called the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS), which was out of date and unwieldy. Texas Student Data System (TSDS) provides two solutions to solve these problems: a timely set of dashboards for teachers, and a revised PEIMS application that will reduce the burden on administrators.
In 2005 the Texas Education Agency (TEA) recognized the need to improve the underlying architecture as well as the quality of information available to all stakeholders. Based on these findings and continuous stakeholder input, TEA is developing an enhanced statewide longitudinal data system to improve the capacity for data-driven decisionmaking among educators, administrators, parents, and policymakers. “At the end of the day, this is about making a difference for our students,” said Brian Rawson, director of Statewide Data Initiatives at TEA. “By improving information technology and reducing administrative costs, we can free our schools up to do what they do best—teach the next generation of Texans.”
What Is the Texas Student Data System?
TSDS comprises five critical components that will aid stakeholders in accessing real-time data to best help their students:
- State-sponsored Student Information System (SIS) addresses the needs of the state’s complex and fragmented operating environment. (More than 80 percent of districts in Texas have fewer than 5,000 students, and more than 60 percent have fewer than 1,000 students.) The SIS, which any district could use, will ensure that most districts in Texas can load to the Education Data Warehouse and provide an expanded feature set at state-negotiated, not-to-exceed prices.
- Education Data Warehouse, including TSDS PEIMS. The Education Data Warehouse (EDW) houses the data that powers TEA’s statewide longitudinal data system, as well as its PEIMS collection and data for the StudentGPS™ Dashboards. The ultimate goal is for this cloud-based solution to become the one common data collection platform for TEA, reducing the data collection burden on districts and charter schools and streamlining TEA’s data collection process.
- TSDS Unique ID: This identity management system ensures that each student or staff member has a single identity within the entire TSDS system, and the system will provide a more accurate longitudinal record of each student’s progress throughout their career in Texas schools.
- StudentGPS™ Dashboards: The dashboards give educators a view into the whole student, providing an easy-to-understand picture of how a student is performing by combining multiple student data, such as grades, attendance, discipline, standardized test scores, program areas, and demographics, all in one place.
- Texas P-20 Education Information Resource (TPEIR): The statewide data solution loads data from the certified PEIMS data store to the state’s P–20 data warehouse, TPEIR. In addition to 18 years of P–12 data and 17 years of higher education data from Texas colleges and universities, and information on teacher certification and teacher preparation programs, the warehouse will be expanded to link critical missing prekindergarten, college readiness, and workforce (wage, industry, and employment) data.
Role of the State: Texans Helping Texans
TEA realized that districts were struggling under the cost of collecting and submitting data, while high-quality, timely, useful reports were not available to them. After intensive engagement with stakeholders via interviews, focus groups, surveys, webinars, and teleconferences, TEA identified needs and priorities for a future system and created a new roadmap for enhancing Texas’s statewide longitudinal data capability. TEA has taken its role seriously in listening to strong demand from districts to reduce their data collection burden. To meet that need TEA is developing one common data collection platform for Texas education data, TSDS. Districts have begun using the components of TSDS that have been released, and are already beginning to find value from the system. “I use TSDS to determine the highest areas of need on our campus and directly before determining which materials to purchase. This helps me know I am spending the funds we have available in the most effective way,” said a Texas school administrator.
Currently the TSDS has released some components and is still developing others. By March 2013 seven limited production release districts (LPRs) had implemented the dashboards, and testing is in process for loading data to the EDW. By mid-2013, LPRs will test loading data to the data marts. In the 2013–14 school year, the entire end-to-end system will be available to early-adopter districts. In 2014 TEA will begin deploying TSDS to the rest of Texas districts. Educators from the LPRs are already gaining new insights into their students’ performance and using the information to adjust their strategies and improve student outcomes. One Texas teacher said, “I am able to see students’ past academic and discipline issues, which makes it easier for me to address current academic and discipline issues. The vast amount of data available to us through TSDS helps me make better and more informed decisions about my students.”