Improving Data Infrastructure to Meet Student and Learner Information Needs

Authors: Kumar Garg, Aimee Guidera, & Nick Hart


The Congress should dedicate $1 billion, 1 percent of the proposed workforce funding under the American Jobs Plan, for needed upgrades to Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS). Major upgrades are needed to Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems to enable states to effectively monitor and address long-term pandemic learning loss, while ensuring this generation of students stays on track for college and career in the aftermath of the pandemic. With the major influx of planned resources into K12 and postsecondary education from the recent and upcoming relief bills, there is also a critical need to ensure those funds are targeted toward students and workers who are most in need and to measure the impact of those funds on pandemic recovery. Some states, such as Texas and Rhode Island, are already leveraging funds from previous relief bills (e.g., Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES Act), to modernize their data systems, offering a model for other states to connect education, workforce, and social services information. This demonstrates an interest and need among states for SLDS upgrades, though additional investment is necessary to address historically underfunded data infrastructure.

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About the Authors

Kumar Garg is Managing Director and Head of Partnerships at Schmidt Futures. In this role, Kumar works to help all major Schmidt Futures programs find successful leverage, as well as helping to run the Technology and Society portfolio. He previously helped shape science and technology policy for the Obama Administration for nearly eight years, serving in a variety of roles in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Garg led the Obama Administration’s efforts to bolster science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, including the Educate to Innovate campaign, with more than $1 billion in in-kind and philanthropic investment; development of major State of the Union initiatives to train 100,000 excellent STEM teachers and bring computer science to all K–12 students; and creation of iconic events such as the White House Science Fair. Prior to his time in government, he worked on behalf of parents and children seeking educational reform as an education lawyer and advocate. He received a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and a law degree from Yale Law School.

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Aimee Rogstad Guidera (Guidera Strategy) is the Coordinator of the Data Funders Collaborative, a partnership of leading philanthropic organizations working together to support learning, discovery and action focused on the ethical collection, protection and use of data to help communities become better informed and able to achieve improved and equitable outcomes in education, health and other social services sectors. Aimee most recently was the Founder, President and CEO of the Data Quality Campaign (DQC), a national, nonprofit organization leading the effort to empower educators, students, parents, and policymakers with the information they need to make the best decisions to improve student outcomes. A respected thought leader in education, Aimee was named one of TIME's 12 Education Activists of 2012. Currently, she serves as a Distinguished Senior Fellow for the Education Commission of the States and on the Advisory Board for Harvard‘s Center for Education Policy Research. Before founding DQC, Aimee served as the director of the Washington, DC, office of the National Center for Educational Achievement. She previously was the vice president and chief of staff for the National Alliance of Business (NAB), worked in the education division of the National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices, and taught for the Japanese Ministry of Education. Aimee received her bachelor's degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and earned a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Dr. Nick Hart is the President of the Data Foundation, a Washington DC-based think tank that seeks to improve society by using data to inform decision-making. He is a fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center and with the National Academy of Public Administration. Dr. Hart previously served as the Policy and Research Director for the U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking and worked at the White House Office of Management and Budget. He has a doctorate from George Washington University’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, a Master of Science degree in Environmental Science and Master of Public Affairs degree from Indiana University, and a Bachelor of Science degree from Truman State University.