The N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) recently received a three-year, $3.64 million grant award from the U.S. Department of Education (USED) to design, develop and implement a statewide, P-20 longitudinal data system. NC P-20W (preschool [P] through higher education [grade 20] through workforce [W]), the state’s longitudinal data system, will enable education leaders at all points along the NC education-workforce continuum to access a “big picture” view of trends in student performance to help better prepare graduates for a career and college.
“In North Carolina, as in many other states, decisions regarding standards, assessments, graduation requirements, and resource allocation have been made based on intuition, anecdote and politics,” said State Superintendent June Atkinson. “Once NC P-20W is operational, we will have data to help us better evaluate relationships between ‘inputs’ and the most critical educational outcome, student achievement.”
In August 2009, Governor Perdue and the NC General Assembly directed the State Board of Education, along with representatives from the NC Community College System and the University of North Carolina General Administration, to craft a collective vision and high-level implementation plan for a state longitudinal data system. From this directive, the NC P-20W plan was developed and includes a formal, statewide, collaborative governance and a technology infrastructure that will enhance accessibility, quality, interoperability, and use of “shared” student data needed both for sector-specific and statewide, cross-sector analysis and reporting.
Working with staff from the North Carolina Community College System, the University of North Carolina System, the Independent Colleges and Universities, and the North Carolina Department of Commerce Labor and Economic Analysis Division, the NCDPI will use the grant money to:
- utilize a common unique identifier (UID) for each student in public pre-kindergarten through high school and post-secondary systems and integrate the UID with workforce data;
- establish a data broker based system so that agency researchers can ask questions that each of the data systems linked can answer;
- automate regular cross-agency reporting; and
- provide key data to empower the legislature and policymakers to make better decisions concerning funding, program assessments, as well as identifying trends in North Carolina education.
North Carolina has made great strides over the past 10 years in increasing the collection and use of data, both within and across education sectors, to measure outcomes, inform decisions, and increase system accountability, but much of the data has been used only for compliance reporting purposes or specific, operational functions. This new grant from the USED, combined with the Race-to-the-Top Early Childhood grant received earlier this year, will facilitate the data integration from pre-school through workforce. NC P-20W will enable deep, coherent, comprehensive analyses and the associated information products needed to help leaders better connect, support and improve the state’s education systems.
About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 100 charter schools serving over 1.4 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state’s public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.