This morning, the Bay Area Council, along with California State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) and Long Beach Superintendent Chris Steinhauser held a media briefing to ask for the reinstatement of funds for California’s statewide education data system and outline the consequences of cutting the program from the budget.
The first draft of the “May Revise” budget suspended approximately $8.5 million in federal funds for the development of the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) and its sister program for tracking longitudinal teacher data (CALTIDES). The Bay Area Council opposes the suspension of these critical, federally-funded programs, as does the state’s well-respected, non-partisan Legislative Analyst. Last week, Assembly and Senate committees voted to reinstate the program as well.
“Eliminating the funds for the student data system is just plain wrong,” said Bay Area Council President & CEO Jim Wunderman. “Without a data system, we’re left in the dark about what’s working and what isn’t working. It’s important to note that we are rejecting federal funds with this budget decision, not California taxpayer dollars – and putting ourselves at odds with the policies of the Obama Administration. We’re jeopardizing the future of our students and our ability to seek federal funding.”
“Collecting student data helps identify best practices that can be replicated in school districts across the state,” said Long Beach Superintendent Chris Steinhauser. “Long Beach was an early implementer of data systems, and we have implemented a number of improvements using data to inform our curriculum and programs.”
The U.S. Department of Education sent a letter this month to all states noting that failure to report graduation data – a key part of CALPADS – would jeopardize Title I federal education funds. In California’s case, that would mean a loss of roughly $1.6 billion. To receive federal stimulus funds, California also gave assurances to the federal government that the state would implement a student data system, which would mean that the State is now breaking its word. Additionally, the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Education have made it very clear that any state application for a number of future federal funding opportunities, including Race to the Top – are and will continue to be heavily dependent on the development of a comprehensive statewide student data system.
“This is about accountability, equity and improvement. Without the data none of that happens,” said State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto).