Thursday, February 14, 2013

Seize the SLED!

At last week’s quarterly breakfast with DCPS we deviated a little from our normal agenda and had not one, but two guest speakers. The first guest, Daniela Grigioni from the DCPS Office of Out of School Time Programs (OSTP) is a regular at these meetings and always has news and updates to share with providers that help them serve young people better. Last week, however, we also invited another education agency, the Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE) to present about the long awaited Statewide Longitudinal Education Data Warehouse (simple known as SLED in most circles) and their willingness to be a good partner as well. While many in the policy and advocacy arena have been following the development of SLED closely, we realized after last week’s meeting that not everyone knows about the great work and exciting developments that have been going on with SLED. With that in mind, we thought we would give everyone some background and an idea about how SLED might be useful to them.

So, to start at the beginning of SLED’s life we go back to December of 2007 when OSSE was awarded about $5 million to create a longitudinal data system. This money came from the federal Department of Education’s Longitudinal Data Systems grant program and was meant to help the District successfully design, develop, and implement a data warehouse that could track all students across DCPS and the charters from kindergarten to senior year of high school. Many states that also got the DOE grant also included early childhood data, post-secondary data and even workforce data into their systems. The grant program was rolled out with the hope that jurisdictions with longitudinal data systems would be able to make better decisions to improve student learning and outcomes and to facilitate research to increase student achievement across the board.

In July of 2008 the vendor for the SLED project, Williams, Adley and Co began doing work to develop the system. However, they hit a lot of snags along the way and wer not making adequate progress. The situation got so out of hand that just over a year later OSSE terminated the contract for SLED development and began to work on a new system in late 2009. A lot has happened since then, as SLED was essentially built from scratch, but in 2011 SLED became fully operational and all student information was entered into the warehouse. Today SLED is in use by DCPS and the charters and still managed and housed by OSSE.

SLED operates by assigning every student in the District a unique student identifier (USI) and using that number to track students through their educational development. By running a simple report in SLED, education agencies and school staff can look at real-time, standardized enrollment data broken down by gender, Ward, and grade. Appropriate staff can also look at assessment scores and individual student progress. The current SLED incorporates nine years of enrollment audit data and the last five years of DC CAS data. OSSE is on target to expand SLED to include early childhood, college enrollment and adult education data starting later this year.

All of this information may not sound that exciting, but having longitudinal performance information for students is imperative if we ever want the educational situation of a majority of students in the District to improve. Real time information about when and possibly why students are falling off track, data about what educational interventions are working (or not) and the integration of multiple data systems (via MOUs with OSSE) that track young people across agencies are all huge strides in the right direction for DC. Furthermore, OSSE also plans to create mechanisms for students to track their own educational progress through self-managed on-line report cards, transcripts, and individual graduation plans which could have implications for student engagement and success in school.

Lastly, OSSE has been very open and transparent about SLED enhancements and OSSE staff have come to multiple meetings with community partners to discuss how SLED can be of help with their goals for District students and how their public interface for SLED can best suit community needs. This is exactly the kind of mentality District agencies, especially ones that deal with something as broad as education, need to be successful. Youth service providers need to take advantage of this opportunity to give input to a government agency that has the potential to affect their own data and outcomes tracking and we encourage you to do so either by contacting OSSE directly or by contacting DCAYA to learn more.

For more information on SLED, please visit the OSSE website.

This blog post was written by DCAYA Policy Analyst Anne Abbott. You can follow her on twitter at @annieabbott.

Don’t forget to “Follow” and “Like” DCAYA on Facebook and Twitter for all of your up-to-date information on youth issues in the District. Also, check out our website at .  

No comments: