Data – no, not the character from the hit television series Star Trek -- travels an amazing and mainly unknown journey through galaxies of complex IT systems that only perhaps Stephen Hawking can fully articulate.
As the newest member of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation’s sponsorship team in Dayton, Ohio, I have been inundated recently with compliance issues and database systems. The database systems are intended to support timely and voluminous data-gathering and reporting between schools and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), and to make that data accessible to the public and researchers. My most recent assimilation did not involve the Borg, but instead involved ODE’s Education Management Information System, or EMIS.
EMIS, established in 1989, is expansive to say the least. It is ODE’s main data collection source for primary and secondary education, including demographic, attendance, course information, financial data, and test results. EMIS’ collected data falls into four general categories: district level, student, staff, and financial data. A community school must timely enter and maintain all of this data into their computer, in goal of sharing it with ODE. In practice, however, this is not as simple as a school merely downloading its data directly into an ODE portal each month and calling it a victory.
All states have similar data systems nowadays, but Ohio’s is deficient among its peers in some regards. First, as Auditor Yost has highlighted, Ohio law prevents the state from having personally identifiable student data. Instead both ODE and schools are dependent...