Maryland will get a new data collection system
Maryland just got a $6.5 million federal grant to build a new longitudinal database. That might sound dull, but it will have major implications for the state's school kids.
First, it will give the state the ability to track the progress of individual students or groups of students over time. Anyone who has followed the state board closely knows that the only way to get exact data on how many students had yet to pass the HSAs was to call more than 200 schools one by one.
Right now, the state gets virtually all its data from its 24 school districts, which don't always use the same methods to keep it. There is no way to track students moving from one jurisdiction to another. But the new system will allow the state to do that. In turn, the data will help Maryland keep better track of the graduation and dropout rates.
The system might make it possible to link student progress over a number of years to the work of individual teachers.
In a press release put out today, Nancy Grasmick said the tracking system "will better illuminate what works in our schools." But most important, perhaps, is that Maryland needs to be working on such a data system to make the state competitive for a number of stimulus grants.
It will be finished by 2014.