Data System Holdings
Wyoming already has a data system retaining a wide variety of a child’s private information housed in the Department of Education (WDE). Known as the Wyoming Integrated Statewide (WISE) data system, it includes a unique student ID number, school test scores by year, and graduation and dropout data. The Data Quality Campaign, a non-profit Washington D.C. lobby group, put together a list of 10 essential elements1 of a statewide data system in 2005. The America Competes Act of 2007 imposed 12 essential elements,2 10 of which match the Data Quality Campaign’s list. The essence of these lists gives an indication of the range of information held in one place.
- 1. The unique identifier connecting information about individual students across data systems over the years.
- 2. Student-level enrollment, demographic and program-participation information.
- 3. The ability to match individual students’ test records from year to year to measure academic growth.
- 4. Information on untested students and the reasons they were not tested.
- 5. A teacher identifier system with the ability to match teachers to students.
- 6. Student-level transcript information, including information on courses completed and grades earned.
- 7. Student-level college readiness test scores.
- 8. Student-level graduation and dropout data.
- 9. The ability to match student records between the pre-K through 12th grade and higher education systems.
- 10. A state data audit system that assesses data quality, validity and reliability.
The WISE achieved all 10 elements by the 2009-10 school year.
According to a report by the Department of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS), the state bureaucracy that will review and report on the administration and implementation the larger statewide data collection project, this system may be built upon to create Leviathan.
Wyoming’s Rationale for a Data Leviathan
What we hear as a rationale for Leviathan sounds utopian. According to the Needs Assessment report ETS completed in December 2012, Leviathan will reduce waste; make sure programs are effective; produce safe, educated, productive Wyoming citizens; and use data to drive decisions and policy. All this will, somehow, give policy makers and educators information to “assess the effects of their reform policies and program efforts, and adjust policies and practices to improve student achievement.”3
However, the real rationale for building Leviathan is that it was a condition for receiving federal stimulus (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) funding.
Back in 2009, as a condition for receiving any stimulus funds from the federal government, states had to agree to build Leviathan. Wyoming state agencies received a total of $527.4 million in stimulus funding; the education system alone received $139.9 million.4 Although accepting these funds committed the state to build Leviathan, none of it went to Leviathan specifically. Wyoming did apply to the Institute of Education Sciences State Longitudinal Data Grant program and Race to the Top for money to build Leviathan. Wyoming’s application, however, was denied.
Meanwhile almost every other state government received federal funds for their own Leviathan.