Montana OPI focused on using data to improve student achievement

HELENA – The Montana Office of Public Instruction has been awarded a three-year, $4 million grant to link post-secondary data with Montana’s K-12 data system.

The idea is having education data easily available to educators, parents and communities will help improve student learning, said Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau, who has been working on this tack for several years already.

Improving transparency and using data to improve student achievement and set policy priorities has been a focus at OPI, Juneau said, adding that data allows improved focus on accountability, effectiveness and achievement.

Linking the K-12 education data with data from the Montana University System will allow high schools a greater understanding of whether their graduates are ready for college, Juneau said, and help them analyze which coursework led to successful transitions from high school to higher education.

“Our continued partnership with higher education is critical to meet the needs of the 21st century workforce and move our state forward,” she said.

OPI has been working over the past 15 months to develop and roll out a new public website and warehouse for education data called “GEMS.” This site, gems.opi.mt.gov, allows education data to be combined and searched in ways that are currently labor intensive and inaccessible to the public. The new system will by fully complete by December 2012. Student achievement data such as state and national test scores is currently available to the public on the GEMS website. OPI expects to have K-12 and MUS data up by June 2015.