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Data Quality and Timeliness | Future Plans/EDEN

The Education Data Exchange Network:
Improving Data Quality and Timeliness in the Near Future

The Department's Performance-Based Data Management Initiative (PBDMI) has been a collaborative effort among the Department, state educational agencies, and industry partners to establish a process for states to directly submit elementary and secondary education data from the state, district, and school levels to the Department by electronic means.  Funded in 2003 and operational by 2004, this initiative has built a currently operational Education Data Exchange Network (EDEN)-a central repository that consolidates K-12 information collected from states, districts, and schools.  Through EDEN the Department is improving data quality and reducing the paperwork burden for state and local education partners.  Through its data collections, EDEN will collect and manage the following types of educational data: achievement and performance statistics, school characteristics, demographics; and program financial data.

The Department is now developing EDFacts, which will allow Department staff, state education officials, and the public to access the EDEN data repository.  State educational agencies, as well as federal program offices, will find EDFacts useful for benchmarking and for identifying best practices.

Data collected will be used to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of federal education programs.  It will provide the business intelligence required to track and improve program management, including the budgetary focus on the federal education programs that provide the best outcomes for the students and their families.

Since EDEN data will be used to help determine which federal programs are working and to monitor the status of states in meeting the mandates of the No Child Left Behind legislation, the need for accurate and complete data is crucial.  Confidence in the EDEN data starts with data quality.  There are two major areas of focus to ensure the quality of EDEN data:

  • Outside EDEN-Before submission to EDEN, data collection that occurs at the school, district, and state levels needs well-organized, methodologically rigorous data-collection techniques.  The Department is providing intensive technical assistance to states through their participation in EDEN, and through the National Center for Education Statistics, and individual program offices.
  • Inside EDEN-After the data files have been submitted by the state educational agencies, data will be screened and validated through electronic and human subject-matter expert review processes.

The data quality control procedures and checkpoints ensure that the data and the reports produced by EDEN are both accurate and timely.  The quality control procedures and associated data business rules include standards for data acceptance; documenting the criteria for all edit, validation, and reasonability checks; developing meaningful data alerts to state educational agencies (for missing or erroneous data); and developing standards for data certification and validations. Quality control standards and procedures also will be established in accordance with regulations to help ensure compliance with audit requirements.

EDEN is currently undergoing a rigorous assessment to determine the best course of development and implementation of data quality control processes.  Once this assessment has been completed and the recommended options are selected, the data quality procedures will be refined and enhanced.  In general, the system will do the following:

  • Validate and improve data accuracy by identifying gaps between data collections, inaccurate data, and data anomalies.
  • Ensure that the data presented in reports represent valid comparisons.
  • Display quality metrics in reports.
  • Provide reporting tools and data access to Department leadership, federal program offices, state and local educational agencies, schools, and the public.
  • Limit access to data based on security and privacy requirements.
  • Allow data providers to run predefined reports that display transmittal statistics on their state's submissions and provide the Department the same information at the national level.

The future state of data quality consists of the following:

  • An organization responsible for data quality throughout the information management life cycle.
  • The ability for state educational agencies to view and resolve data submission errors via a user-friendly Web interface.
  • A centralized data certification system and process.
  • A single data repository for data usage.
  • Most importantly, wide availability of the data through EDFacts and its use for budget decisions and program accountability will increase attention to the quality of the data.

These processes and controls will ensure that data quality is maintained during the collection and transmission stages and the Department's data are complete, accurate, and valid.

A recent report [PDF, 3.3MB] by the Office of the Inspector General indicates that PBDMI has achieved success in a number of areas:

  • The PBDMI Decision Support System Pilot successfully collected large amounts of education data (i.e., over 2,200 files containing 63 different file types) from 50 state educational agencies via the Internet.
  • The EDEN Submission System has received education data submissions from 50 states.
  • EDEN has definitions for over 140 common data elements that will be used by the program managers and state educational agencies for collecting and reporting education information.

The following challenges remain a focus of the project:

  • Providing guidance to state and local educational agencies in developing effective data input controls (i.e., edit checks, business processes) to verify the quality of education data at the source level and to ensure that data quality is maintained during the collection and data transmission process.
  • Implementing comprehensive requirements and configuration management controls to develop EDEN integrated systems that will meet system functionality and performance requirements.
  • Developing a comprehensive approach to define, collect, and standardize a complete listing of standard data elements and definitions.
  • Developing comprehensive training programs and guidance to assist state educational agencies in reducing ongoing data submission errors with the EDEN Submission System.
  • Coordinating with the Department's Enterprise Chief Architect to adopt a PBDMI metadata dictionary as part of the Department's Enterprise Architecture to define standard data elements, data definitions, and the business rules associated with collecting those data elements.

The Department has moved to address each of these recommendations contained within the Office of Inspector General's report [PDF, 3.3MB].