In many states ECE programs are governed by multiple state agencies, so establishing a governance body that oversees data collection and use is imperative. The governance body establishes the vision, goals and strategic plan for building, linking and using data to support continuous improvement. It also sets policies to guide data collection, access and use to ensure that:
Requested data elements are clearly defined, with common data definitions and standards and clear rules on data entry and reporting.
State data collection and record retention policies, statements and laws are followed.
Staff interacting with data systems are fully trained, and appropriate stakeholders have access to limited information — from teachers accessing individual student information to state policymakers analyzing aggregate trends based on longitudinal information. This includes reviewing third-party requests for information and providing data to external researchers as part of the state’s research agenda.
There is a well-developed system to monitor the quality of data submitted, including data spotchecks and site visits to audit the validity of the data.
Members of the governance body should include program administrators and legislative and executive-level advisers who understand the meaning behind the data and how they will be used, rather than solely information technology or data managers. Moreover, aligning this body with the other ECE governance structure(s) like the state’s early childhood advisory council and/or P–20 council will more effectively and strategically fulfill these governance functions.
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