Vt. Gets Grant To Improve Education Data Gathering
06/20/12 5:50PM By John Dillon  Download MP3
Schools already gather a lot of data on students - what courses they're taking, their socio-economic backgrounds, and how they're doing academically.
But that information was not readily available to the Department of Education. Governor Peter Shumlin says he and Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca learned first-hand about the data gap when they called recently for all high school students to take algebra and geometry.
"Interestingly, when we both asked the question how many schools don't require algebra in the ninth grade and how many Vermont schools don't require geometry in the tenth grade we truthfully had no central data collection system that could give us that answer," Shumlin says. "There are millions of examples of how this well help reduce paperwork for our teachers and staff at schools, improve our data collection, and improve education for our students by having a central, single modern 21st century data collection system."
Commissioner Vilaseca says the new system will make it easier for data to be collected and analyzed by the state Education Department.
He says a host of information gathered by schools will now flow to the state without teachers or school administrators needing to fill out more forms or spend additional time on computers.
"Right now what they have to do is they have a system they're using. Then, to report to us, they have to transfer some of that information by hand, which then comes to us," he says. "What this will do is that information they input into the system will be with press of a button - it might not be that easy - but press of a button it will automatically be submitted to the state."
Vermont is one of the last states to get a grant for the technology. Two years ago, the state's application was rejected. This year, the state tied with Montana for the highest-rated proposal.
Officials said $600,000 of the grant will go to school districts to help pay for any changes to their existing systems.