Gaps in Perspective: Who Should Be Responsible for Tracking Student Progress Across Education Institutions?

November 2016

Conventional wisdom suggests that local educators tend to be wary of efforts by the state to gather more information from their institutions, due to the burdens that such requests often entail. But California’s current education landscape, with its shift from state to local control of funding and accountability in the K-12 system, its massive educational experiments underway, and its highly localized and autonomous higher education systems, may represent a departure from the conventional. The local educators we interviewed as part of a research project expressed the need for—and a readiness to participate in—a state-level data system to gather and track information about student progress in and across educational institutions. The state officials we spoke with, on the other hand, were not convinced that gathering and sharing this information should be a top priority for the state and they were doubtful that such a system would provide enough benefits to justify its implementation costs.

These observations are drawn from conversations with education leaders at the local and regional levels, as well as with state-level policymakers, undertaken as part of a three-year project by the Education Insights Center (EdInsights) to understand barriers to increasing postsecondary attainment. The project’s ultimate goal is to identify opportunities to improve policies in support of student progress throughout the education pipeline—from K-12 schools, into and through community colleges and universities, and into the workforce. This brief is the first in a series that will explore California’s approach to tracking, sharing, and using longitudinal data about student progress throughout the state’s education systems.

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This brief is the first in the series California Education Policy, Student Data and the Quest to Improve Student Progress, which examines California’s approach to gathering and sharing data on student progress through the public education system.
Reports in the Series

Brief 1: Gaps in Perspective: Who Should Be Responsible for Tracking Student Progress Across Education Institutions? An analysis of the perspectives of state and local leaders on who should be responsible for gathering and sharing data about students’ progress.

Brief 2: California's Maze of Student Information: Education Data Systems Leave Critical Questions Unanswered. An overview of student-level data collected and maintained in California, a summary of past efforts to develop a more comprehensive system, and an exploration of the strengths and weaknesses of the state’s approach to education data.

Brief 3: Scaling Goodwill: The Challenges of Implementing Robust Education Data through Regional Partnerships. An analysis of some local and regional efforts to share data across institutions and systems that includes the benefits and challenges of participating in these efforts.

Brief 4: A Hunger for Information: California’s Options to Meet its Statewide Education Data Needs. An exploration of lessons for California from other states’ efforts to improve their education data systems, and some conclusions concerning a path forward to improve California’s data systems for use in understanding and improving education policy and practice.




Authors: Colleen Moore, Brock Grubb, and Camille Esch



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