Think performance statistics and longitudinal databases are just pillow talk for policy wonks? Don't tell the Data Quality Campaign (DQC), a national educational collaborative promoting better data collection and data-driven practices. DQC recently held its quarterly issue meeting in Washington DC, and the topic was the use of data from the central office to the classroom level, and how it can improve the quality of student learning.

Ohio's new longitudinal data system was one of the meeting's featured attractions. Amy Andres, chief information officer for the Ohio Department of Education demonstrated Data Driven Decisions for Academic Achievement, or D3A2 as the system is called. As a clearinghouse for smaller databases, D3A2 offers Ohio's educators one-stop shopping for student test scores, model lesson plans, and host of other educational resources. A later version of the system will incorporate the state's "value-added" assessment model, which will track individual student performance over time (beginning in 2007-08).

The benefits of such databases were illustrated by two veteran users of high-powered systems.

Edwin S. Hedgepeth of the Knox County School System in Tennessee discussed how transparent data reporting has created healthy competition among the district's schools. Tennessee has been using a value-added assessment model for several years to track individual student performance over time. Knox County's system can even illustrate the effects of particular teachers on student learning.

Holly Fisackerly, principal of Hambrick Middle School in Houston, stressed the importance of creating ownership of school data systems. Her teachers were reluctant, at first, to learn what appeared to be a complex new technology, but when they saw the capabilities and ease-of-use of the new system, they quickly changed their minds. School administrators and staff point to narrowing achievement gaps as proof of the system's worth.

DQC's meeting was an encouraging reminder that more and more states (Ohio among them) are seeking to improve classroom instruction with valuable student data and user-friendly interfaces that even the most recalcitrant technophobes could love.

To learn more about the Data Quality Campaign, click here.

Check out D3A2 for yourself here.

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