Georgia building system to track students from preschool to Ph.D.

Sunday, July 29, 2012 1:20 PM
Last updated Monday, July 30, 2012 9:26 PM
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ATLANTA — Georgia educators are blazing a trail as they develop a computer system that will trace student progress from childhood to graduate school.

With money from the federal Race to the Top, officials from seven agencies are sharing information to create a multilevel, statewide database. The goal is for agency researchers to identify trends – positive or negative – as students advance from one level to another.

For example, high schools have never been able to tell how their graduates do in the University System of Georgia or the Technical College System of Georgia. Likewise, the tech schools haven’t been able to monitor students who transfer from their system to four-year colleges.

Officials take pains to make clear that the multilevel system is not supposed to be an extension of the internal one just getting off the ground at the Department of Education. That system keeps up with every public school student from the time they enter preschool until they leave high school.

THE DEPARTMENT’S SYSTEM will allow teachers from pre-K through high school to look up information about their students’ performance on tests, whether they’re eligible for free lunch, their attendance and other details. That system is new, too, and teachers are just now tapping it for insights.

Integrating the handoff of students from one level to another will even boost professionalism, as upper-level instructors begin to see those in earlier grades as colleagues, said Susan Adams, assistant commissioner of the Department of Early Care and Learning.

Pre-K teachers are using their iPads to take photos and to note their observations of student skills. They’re even scanning images of the children’s drawings.

Theoretically, every one of those pupils’ future teachers will be able to see those first stick-figure drawings as well as test scores and grades from every year through the 12th grade.

But the multilevel system won’t offer that much detail for college instructors.

Philip Smith, an Augusta State University professor of educational research, said the data from a student’s K-12 career isn’t necessarily relevant in a professor’s day-to-day dealing with a class. When accepted to college, it is presumed that students have mastered certain concepts already, and looking forward can be more important than looking back, he said.

“A professor teaching introductory calculus at the university should have a presumption that the student has the prerequisite skills to have gotten in that class,” Smith said. “That’s different than a 10th-grade geometry teacher presuming that student already knows algebra.”

A COMMITTEE FROM each of the seven agencies has decided how much of the hundreds of bits of data on each student gets included in the statewide database. Much is excluded, but enough to measure the success of challenges of various student groups.

While it’s not designed to duplicate the Education Department’s system on a larger scale, it is designed to make trend data available for the first time across levels.

High schools have long been able to see how their students do from the ninth to the 12th grade, and colleges can track freshmen to seniors. Until now, no one could track students from ninth grade through their senior year in college.

With the multilevel system, researchers could see how every student on free lunch does in high school chemistry and then in college chemistry. Or they could trace the success in college of graduates from a particular high school.

Parsons says high schools will learn for the first time just how well they’re preparing students.

“What we’ve heard over the years from high school administrators is ‘We heard the research, but that’s not our students. Our kids go to Georgia Tech and Georgia,’ ” he said. “This will be hard data. It gets away from the anecdotes.”

Staff Writer Tracey McManus contributed to this story.

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Riverman1
93763
Points
Riverman1 07/29/12 - 12:33 pm
3
0
Glad They Didn't Have That When I Was Coming Up

I barely made it to college because I never once carried a book home from high school or studied for a test. I'm not proud of that, but I had an awakening in college that I barely made it into and had a pretty good academic career if I must say so myself. It would be wrong to hold a student's past against him as he progresses from one level to another....if that's done with this system in any way.

CobaltGeorge
175945
Points
CobaltGeorge 07/29/12 - 02:49 pm
2
0
Something Else

to be added to an already failing education system. We might as will go back to the days of the wild west where the only teaching a child would get is words like "Don't Take Your Guns To Town, Son"

msitua
132
Points
msitua 07/29/12 - 04:43 pm
2
0
sounds like big brother to me

one has to question if this is really to improve education for children or to track everything evryone does. I say "what a bad idea this is." more government control of our minds and the minds of our children.

KSL
143947
Points
KSL 07/30/12 - 12:31 am
2
0
None of their business.

None of their business.My idiot high school guidance counselor told me I would not be able to get in to the Ivy League school I wanted to go to. None the less, not only did I get accepted, I was amongst the those of my freshman class that was not on warning after my first semester, of which there were many. I was making A's.

KSL
143947
Points
KSL 07/30/12 - 12:00 am
2
0
They can't tell how they are

They can't tell how they are doing by test scores?

KSL
143947
Points
KSL 07/30/12 - 12:38 am
2
0
On the plus side, maybe

On the plus side, maybe foreign students who apply to college in the US can be identified as such without being able to seal their records.

Craig Spinks
818
Points
Craig Spinks 07/30/12 - 04:00 am
2
0
The OldEd mantra: "Throw us the money."

The NewEd mantra: "Show us the results."*

* "Trying and claiming that one's trying to accomplish noble ends" are
not results.

Riverman1
93763
Points
Riverman1 07/30/12 - 06:13 am
1
0
I'm glad to see I wasn't out

I'm glad to see I wasn't out in left field with this. Too much government intrusion.

Little Lamb
49095
Points
Little Lamb 07/30/12 - 07:06 am
1
0
Crime Prevention

From the story:

Theoretically, every one of those pupils’ future teachers will be able to see those first stick-figure drawings as well as test scores and grades from every year through the 12th grade.

Wow! If we had this earlier, we could have prevented the McVeigh bombing, the Columbine massacre, and the Aurora shooting spree.

redapples
681
Points
redapples 07/30/12 - 07:15 am
2
0
And people wonder why some

And people wonder why some truly great teachers leave the field of teaching! Accountability is one thing, but this sounds ridiculously inaccurate and intrusive. In fact, it is as ridiculous as having students complete surveys on their teachers. When will they wake up and realize that you can't make a teacher 100% accountable for the success or failure of a child?!

nocnoc
49172
Points
nocnoc 07/30/12 - 07:20 am
2
0
What about student privacy issues

With no law protecting the privacy of the student data, rest assured it will be abused.

Have you ever seen some of the non-school related comments teachers write in school records? I have seen many records and some have some detailed negative remarks. May I suggest that people make a trip down the BOE and request a Detailed School Record to see if and what their teachers wrote? Don't ask for the computer print out ask for a photocopy of the actual records.

Again
Georgia Dept Of Education needs to focus on Improving grades and the overall US Educational standing. Less research and more Old School Teaching (Pre-1970's) before every educator thought their latest new way was the solution to a system that use to have us in the range of 21 to 25 out of 50. BTW: GA is 48 or so out of 50 after all their improvements and help.

Little Lamb
49095
Points
Little Lamb 07/30/12 - 07:26 am
1
0
Cohort

The high schools are worrying how to implement the new rules about calculating graduation rates. Could they use this database to do that calculation?

Reverie
54
Points
Reverie 08/04/12 - 06:24 am
0
0
This system will ultimately

This system will ultimately be used to track teachers more so than students. The new trend in education is to track the student achievement and disciplinary actions of teachers for employment decisions. This will probably be used in a punitive way to get rid of teachers whose students don't score above a certain percent on standardized testing or who took too many disciplinary actions.

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