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Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

A library of common questions about the TSDS project--view general questions below or explore the FAQs contents at left for questions about specific components of the system.

Frequently Asked Questions

General TSDS Questions

General TSDS questions are answered on this page; for questions about specific components of the TSDS system, explore the links in the sidebar. 

What Is TSDS?

The Texas Student Data System (TSDS) is TEA's vision for an enhanced statewide longitudinal data system that will streamline the local education agency (LEA—Texas school district or charter school) data collection and submission process; equip educators with historical, timely, and actionable student data to drive classroom and student success; and integrate data from preschool through postsecondary school for improved decision making.  Go to the Project History to learn more about the issues that led to this initiative.

Will this system be part of the accountability system?

TSDS is only partially and indirectly part of the accountability system—some PEIMS data is forwarded to the accountability system to be folded into assessment and other data. However, the two systems are independent and the TSDS optional studentGPS® Dashboards are not involved in state accountability in any way whatsoever, and are for LEA and campus use only.

How will the TSDS solution decrease the data collection burden on LEAs?

  • PEIMS collections are available for load year round up to a year in advance of submission deadlines.
  • Users will no longer be required to perform a full load for their final submission; instead, they can load collection data in partial increments and combine them for final submission.
  • Campuses have the ability to load their own PEIMS data as part of an LEA collection, subject to LEA approval.
  • More functionality in the SSIS means fewer LEA applications that users must reconcile in order to create their extracts.
  • A more robust local validation tool than the legacy XML checker lets users load cleaner data from the beginning of the process.
  • The new PDM will replace EDIT+ and be written using modern technology, and will provide a more intuitive and efficient user experience.
  • In time, more TEA data collections will be folded into TSDS, reducing redundant data loads by allowing users to repurpose information they've loaded to the ODS, and reducing learning curves for users of multiple systems.

See the For Principals and Superintendents page for more information on the benefits to LEAs.

What are the system's benefits to LEAs? How will this solution benefit other stakeholders in Texas?

The following briefly outlines stakeholder benefits of the TSDS solution:

  • TSDS provides a set of optional studentGPS® Dashboards containing customized data for every classroom teacher and authorized public education administrator in Texas whose LEA chooses to participate. These dashboards track whether each student, class, and campus is performing at or below goals, and they provide flags whenever the data show early signs of performance issues.
  • Teachers will be able to use these dashboards to monitor student progress and intervene to help students stay on track, graduate, and prepare for college.
  • The studentGPS® Dashboards include printable and downloadable reports on student progress that teachers can share with parents or campus specialists to help them understand where a student needs help.
  • School administrators and campus leaders can use the dashboards for quick and user-friendly access to student data, which will help guide staff teaching, course assignments, and testing to improve student outcomes.
  • LEAs will benefit from (A) partial data loads, (B) more validation options earlier in the process, (C) the ability to load data to PEIMS as much as a year in advance, and (D) increased automation of data approval workflows.
  • LEA administrators can use the dashboards to assess the effectiveness of their staff's curricula, classroom practices, and teacher training. Administrative time and expenses will also be reduced through streamlined data collection and submission processes.
  • TSDS streamlines the data collection and submission process and can significantly reduce the LEAs' costs. In local terms, that can translate to more staff salaries—staff that can be devoted to meeting educational goals rather than pushing data.
  • Education Service Centers (ESCs) will be able to offer training and support in the use and application of the SSIS and data tools.
  • By giving LEAs a dramatically longer loading period, more validations earlier in the process, and teacher visibility to data via the studentGPS® Dashboards, TSDS can help improve the quality of the data collected for PEIMS. Better PEIMS data will improve the usefulness of the aggregated, anonymous data reported to the public via the Texas Public Education Information Resource (TPEIR).

How will educational system vendors be affected?

Through the adoption of Texas Education Data Standards (TEDS) in XML, it will be easier for vendors to manage the extract building process (see Technical Resources for more information).

How has TEA incorporated users' perspective on the TSDS solution, including the Student Information System (SIS) and Operational Data Store (ODS) reporting tools?

Throughout this project, our most important source of information has been our end users. TEA has conducted detailed background research and extensive consultation with thousands of education stakeholders across the state through various channels, including interviews and surveys with districts and charters, regional ESCs serving LEAs, and SIS vendors. In the spring of 2010, TEA and ESCs hosted a series of regional forums and webinars to solicit feedback from educators on the ODS and voluntary statewide SIS requirements. TEA has also drawn heavily on input from Advisory Groups who have provided requirements and vetted documents. In addition, MSDF has elicited feedback during every limited production release. And the Data Governance process ensures that end users are part of every major decision about student data.

What reporting will be available to the public?

PEIMS data is aggregated with other significant academic data in our longitudinal data warehouse, the Texas P-20 TPEIR. A wealth of data that complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is available through TPEIR's public website.

Who is sponsoring the TSDS project?

The TSDS solution is overseen by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) with significant input from education stakeholder groups, including TEA staff, ESCs, LEA educators, legislators, education research groups, educational organizations, and foundations. Funding for the District Connections Database (the ODS prototype) and the original version of this TSDS web site is being provided by MSDF. View the Project History and Our Partners to learn more.

Who will provide support to LEAs for the TSDS system? 

LEAs have the option of granting TEA limited, temporary access to the PDM and DDM for support purposes when technical assistance is needed. Authorized ESC users will have limited, temporary access to LEA data in the ODS and will have access to the PDM and DDM.

How will TEA support TSDS?

There will be three levels of support for LEAs for TSDS:

Level 1: LEAs will have an on-site contact person for technical issues, dashboards, and PEIMS. 

Level 2: If the LEA cannot resolve the issue, they will contact their ESC for support. PCPEI passed a motion that—with security authorization from a LEA—select ESC staff will be allowed to have read-only limited access to the EDW: ODS, PEIMS Data Mart, and/or the Dashboard Data Mart.  ESC staff will be required to complete training and be certified by TEA in order to provide TSDS support. 

Level 3: If the ESC is unable to resolve the issue, ESC staff will contact TEA SEDS via a ticketing system that will be integrated with TSDS. PCPEI passed a motion that—with security authorization from a LEA for emergency reasons and temporary time periods—select TEA staff be allowed to have limited read-only access to the PEIMS Data Mart and/or the Dashboard Data Mart.

If the issue is with the ODS (not the PDM or DDM), then Level 3 support will be provided by eScholar. 

Will historical data and grades be stored in TSDS?

The system will have the capacity to store current year data and up to four historical years' data. Specific data sets (such as course history) will be stored for multiple years. In addition, all PEIMS data will continue to be archived by TSDS just as it is in the legacy system. The studentGPS® Dashboards, however, will begin by storing only the current year plus one prior year; over time, it will display up to four prior years' data. 

Can parents opt out of letting teachers access past years' data (grades, discipline, attendance, etc) for their children?

Not at this time.

How often will the data in the Operational Data Store, the Dashboards, and PEIMS be refreshed?

School districts will determine how often their data will be refreshed. 

Which of TSDS components will be required?

PEIMS and Unique ID are the only required components. 

Once my LEA switches to the TSDS, will we still need a SIS or state-sponsored SIS?

Yes.  

Will you be integrating the EXCEED/IEP special education application into TSDS?

Not at this time.

Is there a fee to access TPEIR?

TPEIR is free and open to the public.