District says data report card not as bad as it looks
"Data-driven decisionmaking" was a mantra of the Fenty-Rhee school reform effort. But D.C. received a dismal report card Wednesday from a national organization that grades states on their capacity to collect and use high-quality information for school improvement. The Data Quality Campaign said that the District has in place only six of the ten basic elements necessary to do a decent job. That makes it dead last, behind the fifty states, most of which are missing only one or two requirements. Maryland, by contrast, has joined 23 other states nailing all ten.
The missing pieces include the ability to assign a unique teacher ID to match with students, and auditing capacity to verify the accuracy of information about student achievement and teacher performance.
"There's a long way to go in D.C.," said Aimee Guidera, executive director of DQC, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other big edu-philanthropists. As a condition of receiving Obama stimulus money last year, the District had to agree to reach a perfect ten by this coming September.
The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) said the assessment, which is based on self-reporting by the states, is not as poor is it appears. Officials said that since completing the DQC survey in October, it has added two new elements: the ability to match P-12 and higher education data, and information on students who have not taken annual standardized tests.
OSSE has struggled for the last several years to organize all of its student and teacher data. It is suing Williams, Adley & Co., the original contractor for Statewide Longitudinal Education Data Warehouse System (SLED), which it fired in 2009. There is still no new contractor in place, but SLED director Gretchen Duffy said the agency hopes to have one soon.
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