California policymakers first authorized the creation of a new student data system in 2002.
Senate Bill (SB) 1453 authorized the creation of the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (). CALPADS is a database for the K–12 education system that will monitor students’ academic progress by housing scores from multiple state tests for every pupil over time as the pupil moves up in grades and changes schools. CALPADS makes it possible to monitor student progress on the California Student Testing and Reporting ( ) program tests, the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), and the California English Language Development Test ( ). CALPADS will also be able to provide more accurate information about graduate and dropout rates by tracking where students attend school from year to year. The data elements in the system will include student demographics, course enrollments, student discipline, participation in certain programs, and others.
After years of planning and development, the state signed a three-year contract with IBM in December 2007 to develop the infrastructure and user interface for the CALPADS system. This work is currently in progress, though there have been delays due to a number of problems with the system.
Student data system: Progress and timeline for completion
|√||1997||CSIS authorized to develop a voluntary electronic statewide school information system, which included individual student identifiers.|
||Senate Bill 1453 signed into law, authorizing CALPADS.|
||CSIS assigned statewide student identifiers (SSIDs) to all students.|
|√||Fall 2006||Local education agencies (LEAs) used SSIDs to submit enrollment information to the state.
||LEAs used SSIDs to submit information on graduates and dropouts to the state.|
|State awarded contract to IBM; CALPADS development began.
|√||2008–09||IBM completes CALPADS development and pilot testing begins.|
|√||2010–11||California implements CALPADS statewide.|
California shifts to student-level data collection
As part of authorizing CALPADS, SB 1453 changed the state’s model for collecting data. The bill called for the assignment of a unique number for every K–12 student enrolled in a California public school. These numbers are called statewide student identifiers (). Assigning an individual, yet nonpersonally identifiable number to each student is a necessary first step for tracking students in a longitudinal system.
With the help of California School Information Services (), the state has now assigned to each student an SSID that “stays” with them throughout their K–12 education in California’s public schools. SSID numbers are the tool that will allow student-level data to be fully integrated into CALPADS—the system that will maintain longitudinal K–12 data at the state level. SSIDs will make it possible to link each student’s information over time, and across schools, but cannot be directly linked to students’ names or any other personally identifiable information.
Collecting and maintaining quality data is challenging for schools and districts
The transition to student-level data submission was the first and most crucial step in moving toward CALPADS. However, collecting basic data about an individual student presents many opportunities for human error. It begins when a parent registers his or her child for school and submits several handwritten forms to the school staff. Schools must also confirm enrollment of returning students and flag, or “exit,” students that have left the school. In most schools, a secretary or clerk enters the student data into an electronic student information system (SIS). Typically, data entry is one of many tasks for which he or she is responsible.
School districts (or county offices of education and other LEAs, when applicable) oversee this school-level data collection, ensuring its accuracy and submitting the data to the California Department of Education (CDE). CDE compares the data to data from the previous year and alerts districts to potential errors. Districts must then resolve anomalies in the data (if a student wasn’t properly “exited,” for example) before a statewide education data set can be completed. Once that happens, the CDE then produces reports with each district’s data, and sends the reports to the districts for use in local decision-making.
Compliance with No Child Left Behind
The actual scope of the system is expected to fall short of what was authorized under SB 1453. This is due in part to concerns about avoiding mandated costs.
CALPADS data collection is mainly limited to those data elements specifically required by the federalAct. Additional data elements that were previously included in the state’s annual collection of basic student and staff data known as (California Basic Educational Data System) will also be included in CALPADS. This includes staffing data on teacher demographics, type of assignment, and more. Lastly, course completion data will be included in order to meet reporting requirements for the federal Perkins grant.
The data elements that will make up CALPADS include:
- Student-level demographic data
- Program participation data
- Student discipline
- Enrollment status
- Course-taking data
- Student assessment data
Requiring school districts to provide additional information would impose greater costs on the districts that the state is not prepared to reimburse, as they are required to do by law. Issues related to data management and governance may have also contributed to CALPADS’ narrow scope.
A full list of the data elements that will be included in CALPADS is still being developed, but a current draft of the file formats that LEAs will use to collect and submit data can be found on the CSIS website: http://www.csis.k12.ca.us/e-learning/class-desc.asp#SSID-CP1