Revisiting a decade-old contentious issue, the Legislative Analyst’s Office is urging the Legislature to create a teacher database that would help lawmakers address a projected teacher shortage.

A new data system would provide critical information that the state has lacked, which has forced lawmakers to “fly blind” when trying to evaluate how to spend money on recruiting and retaining teachers, said Brad Strong, senior director of education policy for the nonprofit Children Now and a longtime advocate of education data.

The Legislature passed the framework for the teacher database, known as the California Longitudinal Teacher Integrated Data Education System, or CALTIDES, in 2006 as a companion to the better-known statewide database that collects information on students, CALPADS (California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System).

CALTIDES was to follow CALPADS, which began operating in 2009. But Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger suspended federal money for it in 2010, partly in displeasure over technical glitches that delayed getting CALPADS off the ground. Then, in June 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed $2.1 million that the Legislature included for CALTIDES in the state budget, an action that forced the state to give back the full $6 million federal grant it had received for the new database.

Brown’s explanation was terse. He said the veto would “avoid the development of a costly technology program that is not critical.” It was consistent with his view that data should be collected locally, not in Sacramento. He has opposed efforts to expand data for CALPADS beyond the minimal information that the federal government requires.

But in a budget analysis this month that includes a section on teacher staffing issues, the LAO recommends taking another look at CALTIDES. “Given the potential benefits to California of having such a system, we encourage the Legislature to consider re-establishing it,” the report said (see page 70).

Currently, data on California teachers is split between the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, which compiles information on preparation and credentialing programs, and the Californian Department of Education, which collects employment data. The problem is that there is no connection between the two information systems, said Linda Darling-Hammond, an emeritus professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education who also chairs the credentialing commission. Darling-Hammond, who favors establishing CALTIDES, said the state cannot determine how many teachers with teaching credentials from California subsequently take jobs in California schools, “or are poached by Nevada” and other states, or how many beginning teachers leave the profession.

As a result, the state relies on periodic national and federal studies for teacher data. Those studies have “notable shortcomings,” the LAO said. The state currently has no ability to track teacher turnover and transfers to other districts, and whether teachers have been assigned to subjects they’re credentialed to teach. Because the state “is not strategic” in collecting and sharing data among agencies, the LAO cited some examples of what it doesn’t know:

  • It can’t compare the retention rates of teachers who go through intern programs with traditionally prepared teachers, or gauge the effectiveness of alternative programs, like the California Teacher Corps;
  • It doesn’t have data on the retention rates of its special education teachers relative to other teachers;
  • It doesn’t have data on how many credentialed teachers are not working, and lacks the ability to examine the effectiveness of pay-based policies in recruiting credentialed teachers who have left the teacher workforce.

The state can’t evaluate which teacher credentialing programs have produced the most effective teachers and which districts’ versions of BTSA, the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program, are performing well. Without CALTIDES, it would not be able to determine which teacher incentive and loan programs, which the Legislature could pass this year, would be a wise investment.

According to the Data Quality Campaign, a national group that advocates for statewide data systems, 44 of 46 states with a student database had at least some elements of a CALTIDES-like database for teachers in 2014.

CALTIDES would create a unique non-personally-identifiable number for each teacher (no Social Security number, name, address or email). The bill creating CALTIDES in 2006 specifically prohibited using either CALPADS or CALTIDES to track the pay, promotion or performance for the purpose of evaluating any individual teacher or groups of teachers. But the Legislature removed that prohibition in a bill in 2009, when the Legislature was considering how to make California competitive for a federal Race to the Top grant. The state subsequently didn’t get the grant, and federal grant evaluators cited weaknesses in the state’s data systems.

The newly passed federal Every Student Succeeds Act prohibits the U.S. Secretary of Education from requiring states to use student test data in evaluating teachers. But the state’s teachers unions would likely demand re-imposing restrictions on linking information on CALPADS and CALTIDES if it were built.

“There are legitimate competing interests, but you could strike a balance,” said former state senator Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, who negotiated the details of the first and subsequent CALTIDES bill. “It was done before and could be done again.”

For now, though, there is no bill to fund CALTIDES, although Darling-Hammond said there have been “quiet discussions” between the credentialing commission and the state Department of Education on what it would take to link the separate databases.

“We will never have enough money to do all that we want to do in education,” said Simitian, who is now a Santa Clara County supervisor, “so it is essential to use what funds we have to the best possible effect – and have the data to understand what works and what doesn’t.”

This is the first of two articles on the Legislative Analyst Office’s recommendations on California’s teacher shortage. Tomorrow: Is a comprehensive state strategy or a “narrowly tailored” approach needed to tackle the teacher shortage? 


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  1. Anita Johnson 5 months ago5 months ago

    Until we have the funding we need to meet the needs of all students, limited funds should be spent as close to the classroom as possible. I would rather increase teacher salaries enough to fill all the vacancies than have a fancy app to tell us how many vacancies there are.

  2. Patrick Perry 5 months ago5 months ago

    There is actually a link between the CDE CALPADS student database and the CTC Teacher credential database. CTC issues the SEID (unique identifier for teacher), and K-12 LEA's are required to collect that SIED and report it back to CDE in CALPADS in its Staff Assignment and Staff Demographics data submission. SEID can be tracked all the way through to students in courses by SEID. Therefore, CDE does have the ability to answer … Read More

    There is actually a link between the CDE CALPADS student database and the CTC Teacher credential database. CTC issues the SEID (unique identifier for teacher), and K-12 LEA’s are required to collect that SIED and report it back to CDE in CALPADS in its Staff Assignment and Staff Demographics data submission. SEID can be tracked all the way through to students in courses by SEID. Therefore, CDE does have the ability to answer many of the questions contained herein. Furthermore, since CTC also collects SSN, it can be linked to state EDD records to show employment outcomes and employers; therefore, it is easy to identify where credentialed teachers are employed outside of K-12 LEA’s. Much of the basis of reasoning here is actually false.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 5 months ago5 months ago

      Thanks for the information, Patrick. I failed to mention what you pointed out, that both databases use the same identifiers for teachers, which would make sharing of information possible. However, researchers and the LAO appear to agree that there are significant hurdles to make data sharing useful and easy and that a data portal like CALTIDES would be a valuable tool. Assuming you are right, the credentialing commission and the education department could be doing … Read More

      Thanks for the information, Patrick. I failed to mention what you pointed out, that both databases use the same identifiers for teachers, which would make sharing of information possible. However, researchers and the LAO appear to agree that there are significant hurdles to make data sharing useful and easy and that a data portal like CALTIDES would be a valuable tool. Assuming you are right, the credentialing commission and the education department could be doing more with the capabilities they now have, the governor’s opposition to additional data collecting notwithstanding.

  3. Gary Ravani 5 months ago5 months ago

    The widespread collection of "big (test) data" on students was so successful (hint: just about every legitimate study showed it was not successful) during the NCLB era, that we should now do it with teachers, Pay no mind to the lawsuit behind the curtain, about the release of all that personal big data on children and the abuse of confidentiality involved, we shall just proceed merrily with doing the same thing over and over and … Read More

    The widespread collection of “big (test) data” on students was so successful (hint: just about every legitimate study showed it was not successful) during the NCLB era, that we should now do it with teachers, Pay no mind to the lawsuit behind the curtain, about the release of all that personal big data on children and the abuse of confidentiality involved, we shall just proceed merrily with doing the same thing over and over and expecting different outcomes. To the obsessives focused on the collection of big data there will always be some rationale to justify it, tracking student achievement yesterday, tracking teacher shortages today, tracking–well, tracking whatever–tomorrow. Let’s see, where did I put that copy of 1984?

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