Early Education Data Integration

data

The increased ability to gather and use data is one of the most important developments the education world has seen.  To best serve our children, states must be able to answer important questions about the long- and short-terms outcomes of the programs and services they provide. Early childhood education data, combined with data from home visiting programs and health programs can be a powerful tool to help improve the services offered to young children and their families. Recognizing the importance of integrating data, the SHINE (State-level, Home Visiting Integration with Early Childhood Data Systems) Initiative aims to share its lessons learned on data integration in five states and make resources available to support effective data integration across programs and services in other states.

Some of the lessons learned include:

  • Data integration should have a clear purpose and vision
  • Data should be aligned with your system’s goals
  • Governance plays an important role in data integration
  • Budget for staff and technology is key

Bringing together data from various organizations offers much promise, but integrating systems can be technically challenging.  There are issues around collecting, aggregating and analyzing large amounts of data and making it available to the stakeholders who need it while keeping individual information private and confidential.  Despite these and other complications, measurement and data collection are activities that our educational and human service institutions need to undertake and understand, however, to give our children the best possible experiences from pre-k through graduation.  Professional development is also needed to help educators, home visitors and health professionals interpret and use data appropriately.  Data analysis helps us to expose patters, trends and exceptions and understand whether our methods and service delivery approaches are effective.

It is critical that all the sectors of early childhood services work together to integrate data and have the ability to answer important program and policy questions. When programs work together instead of in siloes, they are more effective and efficient.  To read the full report from Child Trends click here.

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