Since 2005, the Statewide Longitudinal Data System Grant Program has been assisting states with data-informed decision making. States started creating their statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS) in order to understand what works and what doesn’t work with their policies and programs. Many states support their districts with funding for programs such as response to intervention and instructional technology, but how do they know what works? Making data-informed decisions starts with clean and comprehensive data to inform those decisions.
Image credit: IES National Center for Education Statistics
Most of grants from 2005 – 2012 supported building the key elements of a SLDS. The focuses of the SLDS grants in 2015 are now on education data use. With the expectation that most states have a SLDS, this grant program supports using data effectively. The Institute for Education Sciences required that all SLDS applications address up to two of six priorities that focused on education data use. Those priorities are:
- Financial Equity and Return on Investment (ROI)
- Educator Talent Management
- Early Learning
- College and Career
- Evaluation and Research
- Instructional Support
Overall, this was a highly competitive grant process with 43 states applying for a grant, and only 16 of them being awarded a SLDS grant. We took a look at the project abstracts for the winning states and here are some of the highlights:
Eight states were awarded grants that focused on the College and Career priority, which would evaluate their students’ college and career readiness and postsecondary success. This priority area is especially interesting, as we’ve seen many states launch initiatives to ensure that students are ready for the college or career of their choice. However, many students are still entering college only to find that they have to take a remedial course. According to the NCES, 32.8% of first and second-year undergraduates reported taking a remedial course after high school graduation.
Evaluation and Research was also a popular focus area as eight states also had grants focused on that priority. Mississippi is one of the grant winners with this priority area. Part of their project plans include developing an Office of Research and Statistics, which would provide support for professional development on data use.
Seven states, including Pennsylvania and Texas, won grants that focused on the Instructional Improvement priority. Pennsylvania’s project will focus on providing tools and support to educators to help with instructional decision making. We’re proud to count both of those states as customers that have implemented both the eScholar Complete Data Warehouse and eScholar Uniq-ID as part of their SLDS.
Three states, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Minnesota, won grants on Financial Equity and Return on Investment.
Three states, American Samoa, Mississippi (another eScholar customer!) and Texas, won grants to support Early Learning.
And for some reason, Educator Talent Management was not a common priority among grant winners, with only one state, Tennessee, winning a grant in this priority.
And notice I mentioned American Samoa in there? This is American Samoa’s first SLDS grant! Though technically American Samoa not a state, but it is a territory of the US and it does have an education agency that operates 28 public schools. The SLDS grant program is open to all state education agencies of the 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Marianas Islands.
For more information about the SLDS grants, here are some helpful links: