Data Management and Analysis Systems

Article excerpt

COMPUTERS and the internet have made possible web- or network-based software systems for managing many school processes, as well as for teaching and assessing students. Today, everything from the school lunch program to attendance rosters, telephone operations, and more can be handled by computer systems. And, of course, more and more student assessment can be managed (or at least scored) with computers, generating data results that can be used for additional software manipulation.

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Data management systems are developing enormous amounts of information that can be stored and then combined and additionally analyzed (or "mined" or "drilled") for data-driven instructional leadership. The need for this type of information and analysis is further fueled by funding accountability and the demands of state and national standards, including the "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) legislation.

Educational decision makers are using the data and analysis to drive decision-making practices to improve student achievement. The need for data-driven decision making (known as D3M or 3DM) has created an interesting array of web- or network-based programs designed to store, manage, and analyze data-as well as a variety of interesting terms.

A "data warehouse," for example, is a place to store data. "Dirty" data has been corrupted with incorrect input. "Stagnant" data hasn't been used or updated in a while. Some programs "clean" data. "Longitudinal data systems" enable users to track and evaluate individual student academic performance data during a student's entire K-12 career.

"Transactional systems" supply data warehouses with data from "student information systems," "instructional management systems," "testing applications," financial software, and more. These types of programs are also referred to as "high-end decision support tools."

"Real-time" data is information that is collected, analyzed, and reported immediately. This type of data makes possible the daily monitoring of student progress and other processes through some very nice intuitive interfaces (often referred to as "dashboards").

The scope and size of data management programs varies enormously, from administrative-focused efforts to collect and measure data from nearly every type of process in a school district to educationally focused efforts designed to measure, analyze, and collect data from various tests to contribute to curriculum management. Nearly all of the programs have something in common. Most of them are web-based, most analyze data in some form, and a number of them work with real-time data.

This roundup takes a look at several products with different approaches to data-driven decision making. This is only a sample of the offerings in this marketplace. Keep in mind that pricing is based on size, use, and program features; contact the companies directly for cost specifics.

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STARS SchoolCity, Inc. www.schoolcity.com

STARS (Standardized Test and Analysis Research System) is a web-based customizable software system that provides analysis and reporting on student performance on state and local assessments. Administrators and teachers can use the data for decision making related to classroom instruction.

Data can be disaggregated by gender, migrant status, students not tested, and other factors to provide information as required by the No Child Left Behind Act, as well as to improve student achievement and for other purposes. Test formats such as the Stanford Achievement Test 9 (SAT 9), CAT 6, CST, SABE, CELDT, CAHSEE, TAAS, TAKS, CAPA, FCAT, ITBS, TAP, local state-level tests, and others are incorporated into STARS.

A teacher dashboard provides an overview of class and course performance with item analysis and answer frequency data for state and local assessments. Data can be filtered for subgroups and program monitoring and can be used to define subgroups for intervention. …