The case for/against CALPADS

For all of the shortcomings in its implementation, the data system CALPADS has always had plenty of supporters. Gov. Jerry Brown is clearly not among them. He’s proposing to kill funding for it and CALTIDES, a related database yet to be built. I’ve asked five longtime backers to argue why both systems should be saved, and an opponent – a teacher who shares Brown’s skepticism toward standardized tests and statewide databases – to make the case for defunding them. Brown has called for stripping funding for the two systems as part of an overall look at how data can best be used at the local level and whether the state is putting too much energy and attention on standardized tests.

CALPADS (California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System), which came online last fall and is scheduled to be completed next year, collects data on student achievement, enrollment, teacher assignment, and other statewide student information like dropout and graduation rates. CALTIDES (California Longitudinal Teacher Integrated Data Education System) would become the central repository for information on the state’s teacher workforce.

Arun Ramanathan: Kids no longer forgotten

Having kids has forced me to look at the world differently. Back in my twenties, I worked with adults with mental illness and addictions, and with very troubled adolescents. I looked at them and saw people who had made adult choices.

Now that I have kids, I look at people who have “fallen down” and see them as the children they used to be. I imagine the paths they’ve taken and think about the unnecessary sorrows they’ve lived through. Twenty, even 10  years ago, a child could “fall down” academically or in school attendance, and one person might know and be able to help. Today, we are lucky to be able to collect the kind of data that allows us to identify and help the kids who have fallen down and pick them up with targeted supports and interventions.

The problem in California is that this work only happens in isolation in forward-thinking districts and charter schools scattered around the state. As a result, millions of our children fall through the cracks and end up in places like our justice system. With a statewide data system that tracked these students and eventually linked into other government data systems, it wouldn’t have to be this way. We could focus on treating symptoms instead of the resulting diseases.

That’s the promise of CALPADs and CALTIDES. They are the statewide foundation upon which we can build a better future for our children, especially the millions of California’s youth who are low income, highly mobile, or stuck in places such as our foster youth system. Fully funding these systems is an adult decision that we ask our leaders to make on behalf of California’s children.

Arun Ramanathan is executive director of The Education Trust—West, a statewide education advocacy organization.

Joe Simitian: For well-informed choices

Both CALPADS and CALTIDES were created to serve two primary purposes: 1) Report required testing and accountability data to the state and federal governments; and 2) Provide state and local policy makers with accurate longitudinal data in order to meaningfully evaluate education policy and investments.

Longitudinal data, the ability to link data from year to year for each individual student and teacher, is important.  It allows educators and policy makers to see changes over time for individual students, groups of students, or teachers.

In the past, school districts would submit aggregate reports summarizing certain student and teacher statistics for a particular point in time. These aggregate reports provide useful ‘snapshot’ data, but the data from one year’s report often can’t accurately be compared to the data from another year, because each snapshot is of a different cohort. For example, under the current system, when the state compares the achievement of English language learners from one year to the next, it can’t accurately distinguish progress because aggregate data doesn’t distinguish between the old and new sets of students.

Longitudinal data will enable policy makers to compare the achievement from year to year, and more accurately evaluate which programs improve student performance and which ones don’t. Similarly, longitudinal data could also be helpful in evaluating the outcomes of teacher credential programs, or the effectiveness of certain professional development activities.

Policy makers don’t yet have the information needed to make smart, well-informed choices for schools and kids. Taking an extended time-out on funding for CALPADS and CALTIDES won’t help solve the state’s budget problem. The $3.5 million targeted for elimination is one-time federal funding.

It has been a long, slow haul, but California has made significant progress with CALPADS and CALTIDES over the past few years. Now is not the time to stall out or forfeit our gains. If anything, the difficult decisions that the budget crisis presents can only underscore the value of meaningful data to the policy and decision-making processes, and to millions of California students.

State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) is the author SB 1614, which authorized the creation of CALTIDES; SB 1298, which established a process for schools and universities to report data using existing unique statewide student identifiers; and SB 885 (currently pending) to take the next step toward establishing a statewide education data system.

Margaret Gaston: Critical data on our teaching force

In 2001, the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning and SRI International compiled and distributed data showing that over 42,000 members of California’s teaching workforce lacked even the minimum requirements to teach, and that vastly disproportionate numbers of those underprepared teachers were assigned to low-performing schools serving economically disadvantaged children of color. That information, which documented a severe shortage of fully prepared teachers and pervasive inequities among schools, garnered headlines and drove policy changes to strengthen California’s teacher development system. The revelation of this stark data also challenged the common practice of assigning the least prepared and novice teachers to schools where students arguably need accomplished veteran teachers the most.

Today, policymakers and educators would not have access to that same data. Last year’s veto of funding for the CALPADS system by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger badly damaged California’s ability to collect and analyze data about the status of teaching and student learning. And now, with the further loss of funding for the CALPADS and CALTIDES data systems, the gap in the availability of reliable information upon which sound policy decisions can be made would be even wider.

We support Gov. Brown’s proposal to reform the state’s data collection systems, making them less bureaucratic and more helpful to school- and district- level decision-making. But we would argue for using what has been developed and paid for thus far as a base for further improvement.

CALPADS is also designed to collect and house critical data on the teacher workforce. That information is essential to developing an adequate pool of teachers with the training, knowledge, and skill necessary to ensure all students are able to reach the high academic goals Californians have set for them. It also reveals the subject matter areas – like math and science – and assignments where teachers are needed most. In times of tight budgets, this data is even more important: Legislators, policymakers, and educators must have the current and accurate information necessary to help them target and leverage limited resources in ways that make every nickel count. Without CALPADS and CALTIDES, California is once again flying blind in its quest to strengthen public education.

Margaret Gaston is president of the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning.

Rick Miller: Statewide data does matter

Before transitioning to CALPADS and a statewide student identifier system, if a school reported that a student transferred in-state, there was no way to verify the information. But several years ago, after years of infighting, California finally established a unique identifier system and now tracks students between schools and districts. Now, when this data is published, if a district reports that a student transferred to another school and the student doesn’t show up, the student is classified as a dropout on the originating district’s watch. As a result, schools throughout California have tracked down and re-enrolled many of these students. Real-life students have returned to further their education. Statewide data matters

CALPADS is also designed to provide critical information about students: Do they need special education? What courses have they taken? Have they taken the CELDT? With a statewide data system, all of this information can follow the student, saving time and avoiding unnecessary retesting. When the data in CALPADS is linked to CALTIDES, California will be able to measure effectiveness of teacher preparation programs and other educator workforce trends. Ideally, California will eventually have a statewide data system that allows us to track programs across the state so we can judge effectiveness and better broker expertise.

These are all common-sense uses of a statewide data system that the governor’s shortsighted budget proposal puts in jeopardy, without saving one cent for the state, as the system is 100 percent federally funded. If we consign the collection and use of student-level data to districts and schools, we abandon the ability to learn from each other and leverage successful approaches throughout the state. We need information to know what is working well and what is a waste of time and money. In this era of scarcity, using a high-quality data system to inform and foster a continuous learning cycle  – and using federal dollars to do it — just makes sense.

Rick Miller is a principal at Capitol Impact, an education policy advisory firm.

Ted Lempert: Save, fix, and expand it

Gov. Brown is right in asking questions about how CALPADS will support education in California, but wrong in taking an action that will waste millions and undermine progress made thus far.

Ninety-nine percent of districts are successfully using CALPADS to report enrollment. Eliminating funding for the data systems now is the technological equivalent of repealing class-size reduction on the second day of school. Eliminating this funding would create unnecessary turmoil for districts, which would need to retool in the next few months in order to comply with basic federal reporting requirements. It would further undermine basic data functions that CALPADS will fulfill, including:

  • Providing the minimal system needed to effectively manage over $50 billion in educational programs.
  • Efficiently monitoring student mobility, dropout, and records transfer when students move between districts.
  • Ensuring compliance with assurances that California gave when securing $4.9 billion in federal stimulus money.

CALPADS provides efficient uses of data, including automated matches to certify 1.4 million students as eligible for free school meals without further application; it ensures the timely transfer of student records, eliminating delays while identifying at-risk students; it eliminates redundant assessments for English learners as well as those with special needs; and it consolidates several major data collections into one.

Advocates agree that simply meeting No Child Left Behind reporting requirements will never provide the most meaningful benefits that CALPADS can provide. Largely because the original scope of CALPADS has been restricted since its inception, it does not currently provide more robust data linkages, warehousing, dashboards, and reporting needed to fully support state and local needs.

However, CALPADS has finally provided California with the technological equivalent of an advanced operating system; it can readily support more robust data functions when the governor is ready.

Ted Lempert is president of the advocacy group Children Now.

Anthony Cody: Put more faith in teachers, not data systems

We do not need CALPADS. We already have far too much money, time, and energy spent on student performance on tests. The emphasis on these tests has led to a profound distortion of instruction, consuming huge amounts of learning time and vast resources. The bottom line is that these tests are blunt instruments compared to the fine work of a dedicated and intelligent teacher, working in collaboration with peers. The limited information from these tests does not grow in usefulness simply because it is developed in ever finer and more sophisticated detail. Rather, this lends a false air of mathematical certainty to decisions that are much better made by the human beings in direct contact with students.

If not CALPADS, then what?

We have placed far too much faith in data systems, and far too little in the capacity of our teachers and students in responding to the learning challenges they face. California is a huge and diverse state. We can tap the creative potential of our teachers best when we actively engage them in designing curricula and assessments that correspond to the interests and needs of their students. There is so much phony rhetoric about how important and precious teachers are. It is time to give teachers real responsibility – not just for preparing students for tests, but for the complex challenge of life in the 21st century.

An 18-year veteran teacher, Anthony Cody coaches science teachers in Oakland Unified. His blog, Living in Dialogue, is published by Education Week.

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About John Fensterwald - Educated Guess

John Fensterwald, a journalist at the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, edits and co-writes "Thoughts on Public Education in California" (, one of the leading sources of California education policy reporting and opinion, which he founded in 2009. For 11 years before that, John wrote editorials for the Mercury News in San Jose, with a focus on education. He worked as a reporter, news editor and opinion editor for three newspapers in New Hampshire for two decades before receiving a Knight Fellowship at Stanford University in 1997 and heading West shortly thereafter. His wife is an elementary school teacher and his daughter attends the University California at Davis.

24 thoughts on “The case for/against CALPADS

  1. Merrill Vargo

    Taken together, the various pieces above point to the problem with CalPADS, and it is not a new one in the education sphere.  Here it is:  in order to build the political consensus required to spend money on something as un-sexy as a database, the proponents of CalPADs over-promised on what it could deliver.  Meanwhile, the designers of the system — state bureaucrats at CDE — cheerfully proceeded to design a system that met their needs.  These were, as Senator Simitian summarizes, to report data to state and federal agencies, and to inform policymakers in the legislature.    These are worthwhile purposes, but they fall far short of the vision that proponents of data-based decisionmaking put forward.   Now, understandably and probably predictably,  many of these former supporters are disappointed.

    The question is, what to do?   Data, to be worth the investment, needs to be viewed as decision support.  So whose decisions do we imagine will be informed by the data produced by a state database?  And what decisions can be best supported by local data systems, which will naturally include more detail about local assessments and local programs.     Clearly important decisions get made at botht the state and local levels, and we need interlocking systems that support both.

    What is needed now is the leadership to design this “both and” solution — and stop promising that CalPADS can do it all.  

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  2. Fred B

    I agree that data should be collected and used to help our young people and our faculty.

    But for those of us that input this data into CALPADS, the system is a nightmare. It’s slow, tedious; with little or no standardization (I’ve counted at least four month-day-year formats).  A simple 4 or 5 step task on CSIS now takes 9 or 10 on CALPADS. The interface is clunky, and not user friendly. My district spends hundreds of more man-hours trying to enter data into CALPADS vs. the old CSIS system. Updating CALPADS is almost a full time position in our district as it is. Will the state provide the money to support a full-time position to handle our data input, once CALPADS goes fully functional?

    CALPADS uses a seven digit school code to identify each school within the state. Yet when entering the student’s “Expected School of Attendance”, I need to scroll through an alphabetized list of thousands of schools!  Why can’t I just punch in this 7 digit number and be done with it? School Exit Reason is exactly the same; we have a wonderful 3 digit number, but must search through a list to find the right exit reason. To an outside this doesn’t sound like much, but try doing this 300, 400, 500 times or more, two or three times a year for a large district, and see how much time it wastes.

    I would not be upset in the least if CALPADS failed. IBM gave the state a huge lemon that still cannot do what they said it would, and when it does work, it makes my job monumentally harder.

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  3. Faye Johnson

    Whether state or federal dollars are used, why are we spending millions on these data systems? A couple of things come to mind. First, because we can. Technology is addictive sometimes, isn’t it? We have the ability to get “data”, so we just can’t seem to stop ourselves from doing it, whether that data becomes useful information to build the knowledge base or not. Second, because it will make life easier for researchers who have been frustrated for lo these many years because they actually have to work to get access to the data they seek for whatever study they might be working on at the moment. Neither of these is worth it.
    “The problem in California is that this work only happens in isolation in forward-thinking districts and charter schools scattered around the state. As a result, millions of our children fall through the cracks and end up in places like our justice system.” Yes, far too many students are falling through the cracks (even one is too many!), but millions? And millions in the justice system? Such sweeping statements do not serve the students who need purposeful, specific and careful consideration by teachers and school staff at the school site.
    “These aggregate reports provide useful ‘snapshot’ data, but the data from one year’s report often can’t accurately be compared to the data from another year, because each snapshot is of a different cohort.” The California Content Standards are not linked vertically and do not allow for longitudinal analysis whatever testing system is in place. We’ve been in the current testing mode since PSAA in 1999, but we still do not yet have reliable baseline data for any of those years to allow for longitudinal analysis.
    “Longitudinal data will enable policy makers to compare the achievement from year to year, and more accurately evaluate which programs improve student performance and which ones don’t.” “Similarly, longitudinal data could also be helpful in evaluating the outcomes of teacher credential programs, or the effectiveness of certain professional development activities.” Ditto above plus the fact that these data systems are not linked to and do not provide “data” to evaluate programs or credentialing.
    “It also reveals the subject matter areas – like math and science – and assignments where teachers are needed most.” We don’t already know this!?
    “Without CALPADS and CALTIDES, California is once again flying blind in its quest to strengthen public education.” These systems have nothing to do with strengthening public education. They have to do with making it easier for the state to file reports and with making life easier for those who do the so-called research most often used to slam public education.

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  4. el

    I would like to hear more from the people who are actually doing this data entry at the site and district level, and from the people who are accessing the data and/or supposed to be accessing the data but aren’t (at the site and district level).
    It’s also worth asking if all the schools have been supplied with appropriate infrastructure to access the system – are their computers fast enough; do they have sufficient bandwidth?

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  5. SLH

    Before our district’s resources went into CalPADS, we had our own longitudinal data system that tracked individual students as they progress through our schools, grade by grade.  We learned that ELL students took a major dip in math in 4th grade as the CA texts become more vocab-intensive.  We learned that we could zero out the socio-economic driven achievement gap with strong intervention in 2nd & 3rd grades. We learned that GATE students often dipped in 6th grade (some to recover, others not). We learned that changes in the local economy (jobs & houses) showed up in the classroom with about a 2-year lag. We learned that one neighborhood school did a great job reclassifying kids, but another not so well.  We learned that science scores shot through the roof in the 5th & 6th grades at two schools where teachers collaborated and divided the curriculum according to their personal strengths.
    And on and on.  These are all examples of local analysis that drove targeted responses developed by teachers, parents, administrators and trustees with real impact on real kids.
    That work today? Scuttled between the vice of program improvement and CA budget cuts.
    When Jerry Brown dropped in on the SBE at the January meeting, he planted a few hints about how he would lead as his own Secretary of Education.  Nice to see he’s following through.  Especially refreshing to see he’s bucking the Obama-Duncan-Gates juggernaut.

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  6. Fred B

    Hello El,

    Computer speed and bandwidth at the local level have very little to do with CALPADS issues.

    The huge problem for us folks that enter CALPADS data is the User Interface.

    The data entry screens are ponderous, and as I noted previously, there is very little continuity in how data is entered. I have a Bachelors in Computer Science and a Masters Degree in MIS, and have worked with relational databases for almost 20 years. I can honestly say CALPADS has the worst user interface I have ever encountered. 

    We need some focus down here in the trenches of CALPADS, not just at the top.

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  7. Bruce Chmieleski

    If the state adopted one student information system, and provided funds to subsidize its subscription and use at the local level, we just might have a robust alternative to CalPADS.  I suggest CA decision-makers look at the state edition of Infinite Campus, already in use statewide in a few other states.  Development monies could be re-purposed into such a subscription and some very powerful enhancements to the SIS.

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  8. M.R.E.

    As a parent, grand-parent and as public school employee who once worked in the private sector, public education is the ONLY industy where checking and knowing the quality of what you put into a product remains a mystery and self-perpetuating endeavor.  I’d like to think of myself as the person who pushes the wheel barrow for a student on his or her of an education and graduation.  Even my efficiency is meansured.  Why can’t all be measured?

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  9. Paul Muench

    Trust and verify!  Any parent who allows his child to spend time in a teacher’s classroom is taking a big step of faith.  Granted in the beginning the trust is placed in the schools and not in an individual teacher as new teachers are an unknown.  But if everything works out then trust will grow between a family and individual teachers.  So parents want to know that the schools are working.  And parents want to have a shot at schools improving.  So lets have a good debate about how to verify.  But as far as I’m concerned the need to verify is not going away.  So how do we come to common understanding of what’s happening in schools?  Sure, numbers are not everything but they can definitely help.  And let’s debate that topic too.  If this decision really boils down to a tactical decision, OK.  Then this is really a discussion of the implementors. But if this is a strategic decision it seems silly to not make use of modern tools.

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  10. Jeff

    Schools have been given zero funding to implement their side of this thing, aside from some token grant money for attending a series of seminars on what amounts to the normalization of data.
    Money for FTE, Up to date computers, infrastructure, internet access?  Uh, no money from CDE for this was forthcoming.  I would not hold my breath for it either.
    From this data I fully expect to see justifications for even more unfunded mandates, more fragmented State and Federal education departments each wanting an ever more detailed view into data that can justify and grow their own positions and importance.
    A big part of the problem with a state wide system is the myriad of different student systems in use, from commercial to those built in house, all with different data structures.  In this I do not envy IBM, nor do I envy the SIS vendors.
    I personally would love to see it go away but with would also go some federal money as they’ve attached strings to getting federal funding AFAIK.
    And the bureaucracy keeps growing…  Is this a good idea in anyone’s mind?
    This money needs to go back into the classroom, not pay for data analysis toys.

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  11. Tim Goree

    I wholeheartedly agree with Bruce.  A modern, statewide student information system would create a win, win situation for both the state and districts/schools.  Cheaper and easier to maintain for schools and districts, and FULL access to the data for the state.
    My main beef with a system like CALPADS is that the effort and money that we are putting in to making it work doesn’t really provide the state with accurate or complete enough data with which to make coherent decisions.  The data that we work so hard to send and justify to the state via CALPADS is currently a tiny fraction of the data we actually store in our student information systems at the District level.  All of that data (and then some) is relevant to the real reasons why schools, teacher, and students perform they way they do.  Without a more complete picture at the state level (than what CALPADS gives), I doubt that the decisions that could be made by analyzing that incomplete data in the future would really be sound.

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  12. Sandra Brevard

    Are Californians without concerns on the privacy issues? Imagine a database from preschool through college that third parties will shift through, researchers may access, no assurance of privacy, and less what will be done with the data when the child becomes an adult.
    “Ensuring compliance with assurances that California gave when securing $4.9 billion in federal stimulus money.”
    Hold on – how much money will California school districts have to invest in the short and long term to sustain this system. Where is the evidence that the data collected will have any impact on classroom instruction?

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  13. James Mason

    I was horrified to hear how lousy the UI for CALPADS is.  IBM ought to know better.  Why districts can’t simply upload CSVs of the required data is beyond me.
    But that misses the point.
    Longitudinal databases are great ways to track trends over time, as long as what they store is useful data.  CALPADS is not designed to do this: it is designed to store high-stakes test scores.  Such are not useful data, they are misleading data, and the process of generating them (ie. high stakes testing) is damaging to education.
    So before we build a huge database to track student data, let’s find some data worth tracking.

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  14. Heather P.

    Far too much money is being spent on these data systems. We are seeing huge cuts in districts- in my own district over 900 teachers got pink slips- budgets are at the bare minimum, and yet we continue to pour money into this data system and into standardized testing?
    At our school we look at all this data, but what is really done with it? We can pigeonhole students into categories, but this “data” does not tell us what passions the students have, and what will interest them so they will want to do better in school.
    Put the money back into the classrooms where it can really make a difference.

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  15. Kathie Marshall

    One key point Anthony Cody makes is the limited information these time-consuming tests provide.  The sixth grade English standards I must teach are extensive, but the CST data given back to me at the school site level only lets me know if a student is advanced, proficient, basic, below basic, or far below basic.  Unlike the Stanford Achievement Test I administered during some private school years, the CST does not provide any analysis of the questions to advise me which standards students learned well and ones they frequently missed.  I can see which students dropped or rose a band, but that’s about it.  Thus the reference to a “blunt instrument” used with highly detailed work that takes place in a classroom.  In order to be effective, tests must give essential information in a timely manner.  So in now way do I feel the CST is useful for teachers or students, only for those who are far from the classroom.

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  16. Peter Ford

    A committed, experienced teacher can tell you more about a child or group of children after 30 days than waiting for longitudinal data gleaned mostly from standardized tests.  CALPADS is another bureaucratic tool sold by a few to legislators who are exploiting the education reform mantra for their own self interest.  Teachers spend thousands of dollars earning degrees and credentials learning to assess children; another report will not tell you something a teacher doesn’t already know.  Unfortunately the edu-bureaucracy suffers such poor leadership; poor leadership fails to utilize the advice and input from those closest to the issues, who are the teachers.
    Not only is this data available already, it only reveals challenges teachers cannot solve.  In spite of our knowledge in assessing children, teachers are not credentialed to abate poverty, mitigate dysfunctional families, or prevent crime.  As opposed to shining a light on educators, this information shines a light on those other entities who are dropping the ball: parents and communities.  What else can this system gather that teachers don’t know already?  If parents are curious about the teacher workforce at their child’s school, they can 1) ask, or 2) find the data they need themselves, which is already public information.
    California is in a most precarious economic condition.  Spending more money the state doesn’t have on a system that doesn’t provide anything new nor serves the primary customer, parents, is not a wise decision now.  If you want to know about students and teachers, ask the teachers.  It’s much cheaper, and far more intimate and accurate.

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  17. Carol

    Teachers give so many evaluations throughout the year.   We are the best judges on the gains made.  It’s  really unfair to judge any student by one test result.  You can have a child with no reading skills make great gains but still fail “the test”.  That teacher is not a failure and neither is that student.   Progress is a journey.  For many struggling students it may take 2 or more years to reach the level of “achievement”.   We need to start applauding those gains.      That is why we give out progress awards at the end of the year.  It doesn’t mean the student is on level, but it means the student tried very hard and made a great deal of improvement.  Unfortunately one high-stakes test does not measure that type of achievement.  We have to start measuring progress using multiple factors.

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  18. Jesse Turner

    Wake up and smell the coffee, as long as our children are reduce to data they lose. Why not go to the source? Ask the children how they feel about all this testing? Imagine someone reducing you to a piece of data to be sorted, measured, and weigh. NLCB allocated one trillion dollars for education…Do you ever wonder why we keep talking about testing and standards. Well 250 billion dollars goes to creating new standards data tracking systems, and tests. As soon as we stop working on new test and standards policy makers lose access to that funding source.
    The way I see thing is we could have hired an army of teachers and tutors to actually work in the classroom next to children, but instead policy makers and politicians somehow viewed reform as not teaching, but measuring and sorting America’s children as data. Thus far we have spent over 800 billion dollars of NCLB, and what do we have DOE Impact Studies that indicate little or no effect for their reforms. These people don’t even look at their own data. I want an audit of every penny spent from NCLB. The public deserves an accounting of became rich off the misery of our children. Children are more than test scores, and so are their teachers.
    I am walking to DC,


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  19. Sherry Griffith, Association of California School Administrators

    Merrill is absolutely spot on. The system is designed for state and federal compliance and researchers. You don’t have buy-in from local educators because it does not assist directly in learning and teaching. Yes tracking students a good thing. Yes tracking students to ensure they get timely and appropriate services a good thing. But for the millions spent is that all our local educators are going to see as a benefit from all the money spent? Is this a local/state system or just a one way street? As Merrill states, CALPADS  overpromised. The Governor is asking the right questions. Everyone should be willing to give the next year to make sure we rebench this system to truly support teaching and learning not just compliance and the need of researchers to meet their grant requirements.

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  20. Pingback: A Better Conversation Around Data Use

  21. EH

    I work with CALPADS on a daily basis in the charter school space.  While I’ll grant that the webpage user interface is not the nicest, it’s certainly no worse than say the state apportionment attendance software, or the CSIS UI that preceded CALPADS.
    What does puzzle me is why on earth anyone would try and modify hundreds of student records in CALPADS directly via the interface.  There’s a perfectly functional extract/import ability and every major SIS on the market should have the ability to generate the state extracts.  Even if all your student data lives on index cards and spreadsheets, there are blank manual spreadsheets that can be used for bulk changes/updates.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t envy anyone who’s trying to keep CALPADS updated without a local SIS, but anyone who’s doing a lot of bulk work in the interface student-by-student is probably doing something wrong.  Switch to extracts!  There’s nothing more satisfying then seeing that “500 records uploaded, 500 records passed” line and pressing the ‘Post’ button.
    Personally I have no problems with CALPADS.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I wish they’d stick to their stated deadlines for the various annual submissions instead of letting them slip over and over again, and a little more computing hardware would be nice so I don’t have to wait a few hours for small submissions to be processed.  But these quibbles aside I very much like the idea of a functioning longitudinal pupil data system.  It makes no sense at all to me that we could be allowed to get so close to a fully functioning system then have the rug pulled out from underneath just when it was starting to be useful.

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