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In 2009, Georgia was awarded an $8.9 million federal grant to improve its educational data system. Since then, Georgia Department of Education has been developing a statewide Longitudinal Data System (LDS), which allows the State, school districts, schools, teachers and ultimately, parents to make data-driven decisions to improve student learning. In fact, a large piece of the Federal Race to the Top Grant Georgia received last year is tied to the implementation of such a system.

Enrollment, attendance, assessment, and course information for Georgia’s public school students has been gathered for ages, and now can be easily and quickly reviewed. The application is designed to players at every level to make data- driven decisions to improve student learning, and allow assessment and planning which could help close achievement gaps. Already, the system has been implemented across most of Georgia, and though districts can choose whether or not to participate in the program, so far all but one county has chosen to opt in.

Monday, I was fortunate enough to attend demo on the DOE’s K-12 LDS, which some day (hopefully soon) will also track students through preschool and post secondary school as well. Though the system still needs a few more bells and whistles, the sheer ability to drill down into long term data about each district, school, teacher and student is pretty impressive, and useful. I am even more pleased, however, that the system promotes education as a continuum. Long has Georgia needed to align the designs and demands of Pre-K, K-12, college and technical schools so that investments made in all parts of the journey come to fruition for each child.

Pre-K:
The Lottery funded Pre-K budget has been cut by $20 million down to $335 million and is projected to serve the same number of children as in FY2011: 84,000 kids. This endangers not only the quality of the classroom portion of the programs, which were, by national averages, already underfunded by about 25%, but also, potentially the number and function of the Pre-K Transition Coaches, who work in the communities to assess and provide supports for Pre-K families.

HOPE:
For Georgia’s public colleges, the budget for FY2012 is $303 million, down from $474 million. For Georgia’s private colleges, appropriations are down from $59 million to $40 million. Georgia Technical Colleges and Schools have taken a hit as well; FY2012 is budgeted at $132 million down from $206 million in FY2011. Check out our blog posting from 1/18/11 (The Recession is Doing All It Can) for more details.

Bottom Line:
The Governor does not want to count on Lottery reserves to help any of these programs, so something will need to give.

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