View Mobile Site

System collects, stores student information in state database

‘Invaluable service’ replaces need for schools to have their own organization methods

POSTED: July 12, 2013 11:33 p.m.

A statewide database allows Georgia student information to be easily stored and viewed by school officials.

The Statewide Longitudinal Data System has been in place for state schools since 2010, replacing individual schools needing to have their own organization and storage methods.

Local school systems say it’s an invaluable service.

“We use it both for monitoring and for the development of school improvement plans,” said Kevin Bales with Hall County Schools. He said that previously, individual school principals were responsible for organizing and tracking the data.

It’s not a mandatory program, but rather a resource offered by the state to school districts. Both Hall County and Gainesville school systems have used the data system for the past two years.

Bob Swiggum, chief information officer with the Georgia Department of Education, said that convenience is the main purpose of the system, which also offers an easier transfer of files for students moving between school systems inside the state.

While Georgia had been attempting to implement a student data system since the 1990s, a federal grant in 2010 made implementation possible, Swiggum said.

Data collection at a school level has been the norm for years, as the state department sends certain information to the federal government annually. But individual school districts were left with the task of collecting and maintaining more detailed information, as well as data per student.

Stored data includes much of the basic information, including the student’s ethnicity, race and gender. All courses taken and the resulting grades are included, along with all standardized test scores. Attendance information is included.

Swiggum said that security was not a concern, saying there’s virtually no way the system can be hacked.

Per individual district, there is a three-tier system of people who have access to information. First, there is a districtwide level where certain administrators have access to all student information. Then, at a school level, the principal and some other school-level administrators would have access to all students at that school. Teachers would have access to the students in their classroom.

All student information is stored within each individual school system. Access from the outside is not allowed.

Neither Bales nor Moore said that they have concerns over information being compromised.

“The system protects student data in alignment with federal regulations,” Moore said. “A user can only see the student data for the students that he or she is responsible for.”

Swiggum said that individual systems may have an option for students and their parents to opt out of having information kept in the database.

“We are extremely comfortable with the SLDS system because it’s embedded within our student information system,” Bales said. He said that he understands some people would have concerns about the data being stored, but he has found the database to be secure.

Hall does not have a formalized opt out plan, nor does Gainesville. Both Moore and Bales said the school systems respect parent wishes and would consider a situation like that if it came up, but they don’t foresee that happening.

“Similar privacy issues date back to the security of the very first teacher grade books,” Bales said. “The concerns involve the unauthorized use or abuse of any such systems.”

“We have confidence at this point,” Bales added. “Just like people haven’t stopped using the Internet for its usefulness, I don’t think we’re interested in slowing down the advancements in how well we support student learning. So the fact that we can get ... quick access to the right students and the right data sets has been extremely powerful and extremely positive.”


Contents of this site are © Copyright 2010 The Times, Gainesville, GA. All rights reserved. Privacy policy and Terms of service

Powered by
Morris Technology
Please wait ...