The Montana Office of Public Instruction is receiving a $4 million dollar federal grant.The money will be used to consolidate student performance data collected at the K12 level with that collected at the College level.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau says her office received the 3-year $4 million dollar grant last week. She says the money will create a new system to digitize the report cards of Montana students, from Kindergarten to College.
” (To) provide electronic transcripts, particularly for those kids that are in High School so they’ll have the coursework they took. They’ll be able to make an easy transition into Montana colleges,” Juneau said.
She says data systems like this are expensive and the Office of Public Instruction needs the Federal Money to get it done. Once the statewide system is operating, schools will be able to look if classes are effectively preparing students for Post-Secondary Education.
“The idea of a certain percentage of our students need to be remediated once they graduate from High School and step into college,” she said. “We want to decrease those rates, decrease the rates of students having to take developmental math and developmental writing. So this will help us understand what they’re lacking in their High School career and move forward with trying to beef that up.”
Juneau says the program will walk a fine line between giving an accurate picture of student success and protecting that student’s privacy.
“Every student in this state has a student identifier number. And so we do, from the time they enter public school in kindergarten we follow them through their k12 system,” she said.
And yes, that student’s local school district closely follows that student’s particular progress. At the state level, Juneau says that data is all rolled together.
“Schools will be able to look at their student by student data and see what type of coursework is being offered and see whether that algebra class was effective for example. What we’ll be able to do is say 78 percent of students took Algebra 2,” Juneau said.
And when that 78 percent takes Algebra 2, what is their success rate?—did they have to take remedial math in college?
There is a national group that looks at the Data Systems of Schools. It’s called the Data Quality Campaign. Montana usually ranks pretty poorly, because Juneau says the state hasn’t had the money to build what the Campaign was looking for.
A lot of other states have these consolidated student data systems.
“This system gets up and running and we’re hoping that we will perform better once we see those results at the National level,” she said.
Montana’s system linking the data of K12 schools and the data of the Montana University System is expected to be completed in June of 2015.