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May 23 -- The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), within the U.S. Department of Education, is requesting clearance to continue the Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) Survey collection, which is intended to provide insight on State and U.S. territory SLDS capacity for automated linking of K–12, teacher, postsecondary, workforce, career and technical education (CTE), adult education, and early childhood data. NCES invites public comments by July 24, 2023.

Historically, SLDS has collected information annually from State Education Agencies (SEAs) and has helped inform NCES ongoing evaluation and targeted technical assistance efforts to enhance the quality of the SLDS Program's support to States regarding systems development, enhancement, and use. The request to conduct all activities related to SLDS 2021–2023, including materials and procedures, was approved by OMB in October 2021 (OMB#1859–0933 v.10).

This new request is to conduct all activities related to SLDS 2023–25, continuing usage of the Qualtrics information collection tool initiated in the 2023 collection. The appendices include updated communications, webinars, and Qualtrics instrument screenshots related to the SLDS 2023–25 collection. While minor adjustments were made to questions and language, the primary change proposed in this package is a shift from an annual to a biennial collection. Nationwide, SLDS system capacity changes frequently (ex. Infrastructure enhancements, evolving P20W agency collaborations, State legislation impacts, etc.), but analysis demonstrates that the COVID–19 pandemic stagnated the work to some extent. The 2019–20 Statistics in Brief and accompanying data file (anticipated May 2023 publication release) indicate very little change in results over the two-year period, indicating that shifting to an every-other-year collection would allow for more timely releases of data, with no adverse effect on the integrity of the information.

Survey results will continue to inform:
-- Future grant rounds for the SLDS grant program and technical assistance support;
-- Program offices in the Department of Education, Department of Labor, and Health and Human Services, in addition to external stakeholders;
State development and support efforts; and
-- Public knowledge of State capacity to link and use longitudinal data.

State information about State capacity for data linkages and use is vital to ensure that program dollars are targeted both for grant funding and for technical assistance development. As federal funding becomes increasingly more competitive (with SLDS infrastructure a reemerging priority), we must continue to have a clear sense of SLDS progress across the United States so that federal resources can be utilized and offered most efficiently and effectively.
The SLDS program regularly responds to ad-hoc questions and requests regarding State capacity for data linking and use, including, for example:
How many States can link:
-- teacher preparation programs of teachers to student outcomes for students taught by those teachers (Title II);
-- K12 and postsecondary data (Performance metric, OPEPD);
-- K12, postsecondary, and workforce data (Performance metric, OPEPD, Department of Labor, Workforce Data Quality Campaign, White House Workforce Convening);
-- K12 and early learning data (Performance metric, Early Learning Challenge Technical Assistance, Office of Special Education Programs, US Department of Health and Human Services); and
How are States using data (Performance metric, US Department of Labor).

States and Territories themselves often seek information about which States are linking and using data, and what their processes entail. The SLDS Program facilitates States’ efforts to share promising practices with each other. This enables States to more easily collaborate, learn from each other, share resources with each other, and avoid duplicative work in the presence or absence of SLDS federal funds. The SLDS program also receives questions about State capacity from the public, which is interested in learning which data are available at the State level and how the data might be accessed.
SLDS Program: https://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/
SLDS Survey analysis 2021: https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2021126
SLDS Survey analysis 2019: https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2020157
Draft survey form and technical documentation available at https://www.regulations.gov/docket/ED-2023-SCC-0091/document
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-10943

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