Senators queried Farris on a range of budgetary issues including the Kentucky Instructional Data System (KIDS).
The timing and nature of this questioning was interesting, given yesterday's report from state Auditor Crit Luallen. Luallen accurately expressed problems with the current state of data-collection at KDE and related agencies like CPE and EPSB. But it is not clear that senators see fixing these long standing problems as a priority. One referred to a data repository as a suppository.
The auditor's report underscores a persistent need to shore up data collection so that policy-makers have better data sets from which to make informed decisions. And there's a lot of different types of data. Some legislators seem to be looking for cuts and are much less open to making needed improvements.
KDE spokeswoman Lisa Gross told KSN&C that KIDS is designed to:
- add longitudinal student tracking with both enrollment and assessment data
- enable interoperability of data systems across district and state databases
- create a data warehouse that combines demographic, assessment and financial data
- create a foundation that will allow other sources of data to be added and searched/queried, such as data from CPE and EPSB
- be the foundation for a more robust Knowledge Management Portal that will serve up a wealth of targeted instructional resources, including standards-based units of study, lesson plans, curriculum maps, assessments and other educational resources; the portal will offer a collaborative workspace that teachers can use to share best practices, develop test items and expand their professional skills
"KIDS will corral a lot of data from a school or district into one place and enable authorized users to view special reports. For instance, school administrators could generate reports that show student test scores, poverty level, attendance and more. Teachers could use KIDS to "personalize" their lesson plans for individual students,"Gross said. And the KIDS system would be open to the general pulbic as well.
"It's really a data warehouse. The average person could use KIDS to generate spreadsheets showing school/district financial information (state, local, federal funding), enrollment, test scores, etc. And, it promises longitudinal data from test scores, which is a big plus."The development of KIDS was funded through a federal grant from the NCES Institute for Education Science. Kentucky was one of 14 states to receive this funding. But in today's presentation Farris is telling legislators that among the current service reductions at KDE, KIDS is not being funded. $1.5 million per year is needed to operate the system annually.
Infinite Campus is in the final stages of implementation following a 2006 outlay of $10 million and another $4 million in 2008. Infinite Campus, like STI before it, collects the student attendance data that calculates average daily attendance for the SEEK formula. KDE really needs about $7 million to properly train districts to use the software. However required reductions have caused KDE to reduce the funding request to the bare minimum - $5.5 million in contract costs only. Given the headaches experienced by local school already trying to implement the system, look for an especially rocky implementation as new school districts are added in March.
One legislator hinted at sticking with STI for now to save money, but that would require KDE to renegotiate a new service agreement with STI. I wonder how those negotiations might have gone. KDE's Greg Rush said he didn't think that would save the state money.