Wisconsin's Early Childhood Longitudinal Data System (EC LDS) Project
The Purpose of Wisconsin's Early Childhood Longitudinal Data System (EC LDS):
"Wisconsin will be able to measure child outcomes across systems to evaluate young children’s progress and inform policy decisions."
The goal of Wisconsin's Early Childhood Longitudinal Data System (EC LDS) Project during 2011-2012 was to complete a feasibility study and make recommendations for a future build of the EC LDS. As noted in the 2010 ECAC Early Childhood System Assessment, despite the multitude of data collected by individual early childhood programs and services, the State remains unable to answer basic questions about child well-being and program effectiveness. The need for an EC LDS is evident.
The cross-agency collaborative team has accomplished all objectives listed in the 2011-2012 Feasibility Study Project Charter.
Wisconsin was one of 5 states to receive the Round Two Race To The Top - Early Learning Challenge Federal Grant (RTTT). With a budget of $9.4M, Wisconsin is well equipped to move forward with the incremental design and build of an EC LDS over the four year period of the grant (2013-2016).
Early Childhood Longitudinal Data Systems (EC LDS) Partners
The EC LDS project is unique in that not only will the longitudinal view of the educational data be enhanced, but the EC LDS will also broaden the base of EC data by extending data linkages between DPI, DCF and DHS. The signatures of the leaders of the three state agencies are found in the Feasibility Study Project Charter and in the Race to The Top - Early Learning Challenge Grant Application.
- Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI)
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS)
- Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF)
The Feasibility Study Project (2011-2012) (planning phase) was funded by a State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics with supplemental funding made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that is also supporting the creation, work and goals of the Wisconsin Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC).
The Round Two Race To The Top - Early Learning Challenge Federal Grant will fund the design, build and implementation efforts over the four year grant period (2013-2016).
The role of the ECAC
The development of this type of comprehensive Early Childhood Longitudinal Data System (EC LDS) is supported by the WI Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC).
The Council’s charge is to assist in developing a more comprehensive and coordinated early childhood system that supports high quality early learning and development experiences.
Feasibility Study Project Objectives and Scope Achieved
The initial focus for the Feasibility Study (as well as the initial build, going forward) is on linking information from early childhood programs and services by using data housed in the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF), and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). In addition, the Project eventually foresees making links to programs and services with adult outcomes data, such as those found in the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (WI DWD) and the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (WI DOC).
The Feasibility Study Project Objectives achieved are as follows:
- Analyze the current early childhood data environment.
- Create an inventory of early childhood programs and services and data collection practices, including: data elements, method of collection, availability of data, data standards, and capacity for data sharing
- Identify alternative strategies for assigning a unique identifier to children in Wisconsin consistent with ECDC* guidance.
- Identify alternative strategies for assigning a unique identifier to program sites within Wisconsin consistent with ECDC* guidance.
- Identify alternative strategies for assigning a unique identifier to the early childhood workforce within Wisconsin consistent with ECDC* guidance.
- Establish data sharing methodologies.
- Build consensus around common data elements and data standards.
- Determine potential system architecture.
- Create a work plan to begin the data sharing and analysis process.
- Identify opportunities to exchange data to meet the long term objectives of the ECDC* and work to establish a sequence of activities that best meet the priority needs of Wisconsin.
- Determine how and when identified data elements can be added to the EC LDS.
- Develop strategies for security, data governance, long term system usage and sustainability.
*ECDC - The Early Childhood Data Collaborative, a consortium of national organizations working to help states build, link, and use early childhood data systems, has developed guidelines defining a well-crafted EC LDS. Partner organizations in the Early Childhood Data Collaborative include the Council of Chief State School Officers, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at UC Berkeley, Data Quality Campaign, National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Governors Association for Best Practices, and Pre-K Now at the Pew Center on the States.
The Feasibility Study Scope of Work achieved (High-Level Deliverables) are as follows:
- The Project Coordinator will guide and manage production of an inventory of early childhood programs and services, and the data currently collected by them (including individual-, provider-, and program-level data). Particular emphasis should be placed on those programs that collect data at the individual child or workforce level. This document should also include information about the accessibility, quality, and transferability of collected data, as well as identify existing data gaps.
- Working with the Project Team and Data Analyst, the Project Coordinator will guide and manage development of a work plan to begin building and to sustain the EC LDS, including:
- Key policy questions to be answered by the EC LDS.
- Options for assigning a unique ID to children, providers and programs.
- Identification of essential common data elements and strategies for developing common data strategies.
- Identification of short-term (low-cost, high return) opportunities for data linkages.
- Identification of long-term data sharing architecture and strategies.
- Strategies for addressing existing data gaps.
- Strategies for data governance and usage.
- Strategies for data quality assurance.
- Strategies for privacy protection and security practices and policies.
- Strategies for engaging state and local stakeholders (including the ECAC, policymakers, researchers, service providers and parents) in system building and sustainability efforts.
- Identification of additional funding sources for building and maintaining the system.
Feasibility Study: Key Policy Questions
An important first step in the development of the EC LDS was the identification of the key policy questions that will guide the State’s system building efforts. For example, The Early Childhood Data Collaborative (ECDC) has identified a number of key policy questions that a well-crafted EC LDS can help answer.
- Are children, birth through age five, on track to succeed when they enter school and beyond?
- Which children have access to high-quality early care and education programs?
- Is the quality of programs improving?
- What are the characteristics of effective programs?
- How prepared is the early care and education workforce to provide effective education and care for all children?
- What policies and investments lead to a skilled and stable early care and education workforce?
The Project team recommended a broader set of initial policy questions which were confirmed by public feedback garnered during the Early Childhood Collaborating Partners video conference on August 11, 2011. These are the initial questions for consideration:
- Are children, birth to age 5, on track to succeed when they enter school and beyond?
- Which children and families are and are not being served by which programs/services?
- Which children have access to high-quality early childhood programs and services?
- What characteristics of programs are associated with positive child outcomes for which children?
- What are the education and economic returns on early childhood investments?
Feasibility Study: Driving Out Underlying Questions - Data Roundtable
A Data Roundtable was held on February 22, 2012. The Data Roundtable served as a gathering of this project’s extended group of Wisconsin stakeholders and involved:
- A presentation by national experts Elliot Regenstein, Susan Illgen, and Missy Cochenour.
- An opportunity for the attendees to join with other professionals who manage programs designed for better outcomes for young children and influence the direction of the use and governance of this data.
- A commitment from the project team to keep the stakeholders informed and engaged in the ongoing evolution of this system.
The morning session of the Data Roundtable focused the stakeholders on the task of driving out the many underlying questions which should be asked as a result of asking the five WI Key Policy Questions above. It is desired that the EC LDS be developed to answer the questions the stakeholders really need to have answered.
The afternoon session incorporated the summary of the morning session in further exploration of ideas to assist the project team with planning for data governance, system design, sustainability, use of data, potential pilots and continued engagement of stakeholders.
Our national experts have produced a report as a followup to the Data Roundtable day. The Report of the Wisconsin Data Roundtable outlines the outcomes of the day and includes recommendations for moving the project forward.
Feasibility Study: What Data Elements Must Be Accessed by the EC LDS to Answer the Underlying Questions?
A Data Survey completed by data experts across various state agency programs/source systems was developed and used to gather the information on availability of various data elements.
Guidance from the ECDC, which has identified potential Fundamental Elements of a Coordinated State ECE Data System, has been considered in developing the data survey. The ten fundamental elements include:
1. Unique statewide child identifier. Note: Use of an Entity Resolution Tool to identify the same child across multiple systems/programs is valid.
2. Child-level demographic and program participation information.
3. Child-level data on child development.
4. Ability to link child-level data with K–12 and other key data systems.
5. Unique program site identifier with the ability to link with children and the EC workforce.
6. Program site data on structure, quality and work environment.
7. Unique EC workforce identifier with ability to link with program sites and children.
8. Individual EC workforce demographics, including education, and professional development information.
9. State governance body to manage data collection and use.
10. Transparent privacy protection and security practices and policies.
Guidance from the WI School Readiness Indicator Initiative Steering Committee has also been incorporated in the development of the data survey, through the use of the indicators recommended in The Status of School Readiness Indicators In Wisconsin.
The data elements which will answer the underlying questions uncovered in the February 22, 2012 Data Roundtable sessions have been be incorporated into the survey, as well as public comments gathered during the August 11, 2011 WECCP Videoconference Survey.
The survey results are complete. A wealth of information is available across the three state agencies involved in this project (DCF, DHS, DPI).
The WI Data Survey Summary Spreadsheet of data elements is now available for study. The project advisory team, project work groups and data governance committees have and will continue to make use of the data survey summary as they recommend which questions to answer with the EC LDS, allowing the survey results to inform them as to where the data lies which will answer those questions.
Feasibility Study: Recommendations Made
The topics of Capacity, Unique identifiers, Data Governance, Stakeholder Involvement, Potential System Architecture and Sustainability have been studied by various Project Team Workgroups. Recommendation papers on these topics have been prepared and approved by the feasibility study project team members, as well as some papers requested by and circulated to the Governor's ECAC for comment.
Round 2 Race to The Top Grant Application Secures Funding For Build
Wisconsin applied for the Race To the Top - Early Learning Challenge (RTTT - ELC) Grant in late 2011. Wisconsin did not receive the funding, but was ranked very high towards that effort. An application process for Round 2 of the grant opened up in the fall of 2012. Wisconsin applied and was approved for round 2 funding. This funding will allow the state to move forward with design, build, testing and implementation of the cross-departmental EC LDS.
Work Plan Developed for Build
The last deliverable for the Feasibility Study was the development of a work plan to begin building and to sustain the EC LDS. With the funding secured for this effort over the next four years (2013 - 2016), this is also the first deliverable for the RTTT - ELC grant (see below).
Efforts of Other States and Local Efforts
The federal government continues to make substantial investments in LDS development in several states, and the ECDC and other national level organizations and partnerships continue to provide leadership and guidance. At the same time, local efforts to build an EC LDS; e.g., in Milwaukee, Racine, Brown County, Chippewa Falls and others, continue to develop. In conducting the efforts of this project, the project manager will continue to monitor, consult, and collaborate with these ongoing efforts, in order to maximize effectiveness and avoid duplication of system building efforts (see References below).
Expected Outcomes of the Future EC LDS:
· High quality information about young children and the services they receive
· Ability to measure children’s progress across programs and over time
· Ability to document which services are effective for which children and target resources accordingly
· Increased cross-agency collaboration and communication
· Increased accountability
A Small Sample of the Questions the Future EC LDS Might Answer:
· Which children are “where”, served by “whom?” Who isn’t receiving any services?
· Which providers are working with which children, and how does this impact long term outcomes for children?
How does professional development influence provider impact?
· Which programs are serving which children? What are the attributes of quality? What about curriculum and long term impact?
· Do children of families who receive TANF benefits fare better in school than children in poor families who do not participate in TANF? Do they receive more
preventative health services?
· How do infants and toddlers in foster care fare when they enter school?
· Is participation in prevention programs such as home visiting associated with better educational outcomes?
· Do children receiving WI Shares subsidies who attend higher quality child care (as designated by YoungStar (http://dcf.wi.gov/youngstar/) have better educational
and health outcomes than those who attend lower quality child care?
· How are children who were low-birth-weight infants doing in school? What early care programs were the most effective in helping them/their families?
· Are homeless families finding access to the programs available to them for their children? Are the programs making a difference for these children?
Data Available To the Public Today:
· As we plan to combine data from the three participating departments (DPI, DCF, DHS) in secure and meaningful ways in the near future, we have provided
some links here to publicly available data under various topics (some focused on Early Childhood only and some more broadly focused):
- % of WI Children in Poverty (source WINSS) - 41% of all students (school year 2011/2012), 35% of K4 students (school year 2011/2012)
- Youngstar is a program of the Department of Children and Families created to improve the quality of child care for Wisconsin children. Youngstar:
- Evaluates and rates the quality of care given by child care providers
- Helps parents choose the best child care for their kids
- Supports providers with tools and training to deliver high quality early care
- Sets a consistent standard for child care quality
- See how YoungStar services are being delivered in your area by visiting the YoungStar Statistics web page
- Wisconsin's Information Network for Successful Schools (WINSS) is a resource for educators, parents and community members interested in educating the hearts and minds of Wisconsin's children. WINSS provides information on what we want our children to know and be able to do; how students are performing each year; and how our schools are staffed and funded. WINSS also describes the seven characteristics of successful schools - and shares resources that are central to successful schools including leadership, planning tools, professional development and community partnerships.
- Public Enrollment Files: Enrollment is a headcount of students receiving primary educational services from a school district as of the third Friday in September.
- The Department of Health Services, Division of Public Health offers valuable information.
A THANK YOU to Carol Noddings Eichinger, MS, LPC, IMH-E®(IV)
· Carol has provided us with enthusiastic guidance throughout our Feasibility Study (Planning Phase). We could not have accomplished all that we
have without her! Carol continues her work with and for young children, their families and early childhood practitioners. We know she is "cheering us on" from the
sidelines as we continue with the Build and Implementation phase of the project. THANKS CAROL!!!
2013-2016: Moving Forward - Race To The Top - Early Learning Challence Funding Allows Design, Build and Implementation of EC LDS
Build of EC LDS - Project Overview:
Establishment of an EC LDS as an integrated information exchange over the silo-ed agency datasets is and continues to be considered a critical system need. This project going forward will enhance existing early childhood data collection efforts and design the architecture to link key early childhood care and education data collections. The project will create Early Childhood (birth through age 5) data linkages between the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the Department of Health Services (DHS) and the Department of Children and Families (DCF). The goal of the eventual data linkage effort is to broaden the base of shared information about pre-school children and to link that EC data to the existing K-12 LDS data. Consequently, this project will support ways to connect data from YoungStar with education and health outcome data, and additional service participation data for the same children at DPI and DHS. It will also support efforts to strengthen and link related data systems at DCF, including YoungStar, Wisconsin Shares (Wisconsin’s child care subsidy program), and Child Welfare. DHS will build an Early Childhood Division of Public Health Customer Hub for facilitating data linkages.
Build of EC LDS - Project Deliverables:
Nine distinct but related projects are within this portfolio:
- Sustainable WI EC LDS Data Governance Structure (years 1 - 4)
- Data Governance Orientation Workshop during year one
- Structures and policies to identify and implement first crucial essential data elements and linkages
- Data Governance Charter, structures and policies to identify and implement Data system oversight requirements
- MOUs between DPI, DCF, and DHS re: data sharing, data governance, and data quality assurance
- Entity Resolution Tool (ERT) (Matching Tool) (year 1 - 2)
- DHS Division of Public Health (DPH) Customer Hub (year 1 - 2)
- Enhanced DCF Enterprise Warehouse (years 1 - 4)
- Research agenda, reporting processes and analytical capacity, to answer key policy questions (years 2 - 4)
- Programming and infrastructure upgrades needed to align data collection standards and create efficient and reliable interoperability between Participating State Agencies (PSA) data systems, as a result of developing research agenda (years 3 - 4)
- Early Childhood Data added to Data Model, and WISEdash presentation layer (years 2 - 4)
- Access to data at secured level for basic silo-ed indicators (some basic silo-ed indicators in year 2, remainder by year 4)
- Robust matching allows cross-departmental data sharing and display in secured presentation layer (years 2 - 4)
- Access to summarized data at general public level (years 2 - 4)
- Training for state level system users (secured login) (appropriate personnel at DCF, DHS, DPI) (year 3)
- Training for schools/districts and other county level partners (year 4)
Build of EC LDS - Project Assumptions and Constraints:
- Budget dollars as defined by the Race to the Top; Early Learning Challenge grant will be used to fund this project, managed by WI DCF.
- Where appropriate, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Public Instruction, and the Department of Health Service will explore the opportunity to share technology and/or standardize technology and share the long-term costs for supporting resulting systems among participating partners.
- Where appropriate, the EC LDS Project Teams will align with national standards and initiatives.
2013-2016 EC LDS Build Project Deliverables and Reports
2011-2012 Feasibility Study Project Deliverables and Reports
National Initiatives and Organizations:
Early Childhood Data Collaborative and Data Quality Campaign www.ECEdata.org
Many Missing Pieces; The Difficult Task of Linking Early Childhood Data and School-Based Data System http://www.newamerica.net/pressroom/2010/many_missing_pieces
State of Wisconsin Resources
WI Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council http://dcf.wi.gov/ecac/initiatives.htm
WI Early Childhood Collaborating Partners http://www.collaboratingpartners.com/
Building Blocks for Wisconsin’s Future: The Foundation for an Early Childhood System
(Governor’s State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care December 2010 Report) http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/ecac/pdf/report.pdf
2010 Wisconsin Early Childhood System Assessment Report (completed by UW-Madison
LaFollette School of Public Affairs) http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/ecac/pdf/assessment_report.pdf
Wisconsin’s Early Care and Education Landscape: Planning for a Coherent System (November 2009, Wisconsin Council on Children and Families)
WI School Readiness Indicator Initiative Steering Committee: Wisconsin School Readiness Indicator initiative -- The Status of School Readiness Indicators In Wisconsin (September 2003)
WI Head Start Association
Public Policy Forum
Public Policy Forum’s research on early childhood education outcomes
Other State Early Childhood System Models
Milwaukee Integrated Data Evaluation and Action System (IDEAS) for Children Initiative
Ann Terrell [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Racine School Readiness Coalition Longitudinal Data Monitoring System, Dr. Carole M. Johnson, Director, The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread, 33 East Four Mile Rd, Racine, WI, 43402 [email@example.com]
Community LDS of Chippewa Falls, Dana Sommerfeld [SommerDM@chipfalls.k12.wi.us]
Brown County Community Database, Sarah Inman [firstname.lastname@example.org]