At the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE), we support over half a million students across 42 school districts and 780 schools. That’s a lot of educational data, especially when you consider that 80% of students have access to a personal school-provided device. According to Patrick Gittisriboongul, Assistant Superintendent for Innovation, this data really matters. ”Our role is really focused on student achievement,” he starts. “And so when it comes to equity, when it comes to access, data informs what we do on a monthly, daily basis.”
One of the unique challenges we face is serving the large military and migrant populations in the county, who historically experience more transience. Data cohesion is essential for serving students who transfer between school districts. One of our goals would be to create a “universal transcript,” so no matter where a student goes, their academic achievements, assessment data, and needs could go with them. Our solution lies in Data interoperability: the safe and secure transport of data between district systems.
We have been moving towards creating this alignment between school districts for a while; participating in Digital Promise's Assessment Data Interoperability Challenge Collaborative helped us focus our efforts. We decided on a specific project while attending workshop sessions at a Data Interoperability Bootcamp held by the League of Innovative Schools. This project involved visualizing literacy assessment data across multiple levels (county, school, classroom, and student) so that it could be used to inform instructional choices. Three school districts were chosen for our pilot. We decided to start with elementary grades, since the K-5 data was more structured and more likely to align well across districts.
What we didn’t expect was how difficult it would be to get data flowing at the county level. It turned out that all of our 42 districts were working under different data sharing agreements. We decided to put together a small committee to tackle this problem. We are still in the process of developing one data sharing memorandum of understanding (MOU) that can be used universally across all of our districts and schools.
Once this MOU is in place, we’ll be closer to building a universal transcript for students. For now, we’re focusing on our three pilot districts. To date, we’ve been able to build two dashboards of literacy data for their use, and hope to expand in the years ahead. This portfolio will dive into how our district is working on building data cohesion, starting with a shared data agreement.