For over 20 years, Texas has demonstrated a strong commitment to thorough data collection and the use of data to support policy decisions. The Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) was designed in 1986 as a state-of-the-art state-level reporting system. Though undeniably strong and cutting edge at that point, the data structures and collection mechanisms within PEIMS have been in place for more than 20 years and are now in need of upgrading. Recognizing not only the need to improve its underlying architecture to collect and report data, but also improve the timeliness, relevance, and quality of information available to all stakeholders, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has been actively engaged in a number of major projects, both privately and federally-funded, to diagnose and address gaps in the existing state data systems.
In late 2008, TEA secured funding from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF) to initiate a study to form the basis of a new roadmap for developing an enhanced statewide longitudinal data capability to improve the capacity for data-driven decision making among key education stakeholders within the state: educators, parents, administrators, and policymakers.
The Texas Student Data System (TSDS) vision was developed with detailed background research and extensive consultation with stakeholders through various channels, including:
Focus groups and interviews with over 250 districts and charters; 18 regional Educational Service Centers (ESCs) serving districts.
Best practice surveys of other states’ education systems and processes.
A student information system (SIS) vendor forum with participants who have experience working with districts in Texas.
A voluntary district survey to document their data collection burden and associated costs.
The research identified several critical gaps in the state data systems:
Districts spend too much time and money on collecting and submitting data rather than using reported student-level information to drive better outcomes.
There is broad demand among districts for a statewide data management system to ease the data collection and data management process.
Key stakeholders lack timely, actionable data required to modify classroom instruction and inform school-, district-, and state-level programmatic decisions to drive improved student outcomes.
These findings have been the primary drivers behind TEA’s TSDS designs. Based on this input, the TEA has created a roadmap for a practical and powerful statewide data solution that will increase the availability of data to support the state’s educational improvement efforts, while at the same time decreasing the burden of data collection on districts and the state.