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Michael & Susan Dell Foundation Invests $10M in Data Initiative in Texas to Improve Student Achievement State Wide

– Investment Will Empower Educators with Data and Information Critical to Driving Student and Classroom Success –

AUSTIN, Texas – Believing that student achievement and teacher satisfaction can be improved by giving educators timely, relevant insights about student performance, the Dell family foundation today announced a $10 million commitment to establish a Texas Student Data System (TSDS). The investment will support the delivery of a modern, flexible, powerful and actionable student-centric education data system for K-12 schools that educators can use to make decisions, predict performance levels and graduation rates, change the course of individual students at risk, and better prepare all students for college and beyond.

While the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has one of the most comprehensive state reporting frameworks in the country and a rich repository of student data, the outdated and cumbersome approach to how the information is captured has made the information difficult to access, manage and report in a relevant way to impact student achievement.

“The data we currently collect has helped the state monitor public schools. This new system will allow us to provide timely and meaningful information from the teacher to the taxpayer,” said Robert Scott, Texas Commissioner of Education. “We are delighted that organizations like the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation understand the importance of investments that help us make that change.”

“Time is the enemy of the educator – there’s never enough of it,” said Janet Mountain, executive director of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. “When teachers and principals can access information quickly about their students, more time can be used to build relationships and keep students on the right trajectory. Teachers can spend more time focused on what they do best – helping students.”

Reducing costly annual reporting burdens
Texas districts currently respond to 104 annual TEA data collections , only 37 of which are automated by some sort of software or technology. The district resources required to support TEA data collections have been estimated at more than $300M statewide every year. As an example, Houston ISD estimates that it spends $7M annually.

The TSDS initiative will create the next generation of the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) and deliver a higher level of automated functionality and service at lower cost by standardizing certain functions in common tools – specifically the student information system and operational data store – while preserving privacy and firewall protection for each individual student and district.

Equipping educators with performance management capabilities
The $10 million commitment from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is aimed at developing a statewide system to power educator dashboards and snapshots that deliver education data for the state of Texas with the goal of getting timely and historical information to the fingertips of administrators and teachers how and when they need it most. In addition, educators will not only be able to follow a student from one campus or one district, but across campuses and districts when students move locations. In cooperation with TEA, educators from across Texas will be engaged in defining the information critical to helping them do their job.

The TSDS initiative builds upon other related projects the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation funds in Texas, including a 2008 planning grant around upgrading TEA’s PEIMS system, performance management grants in large districts such as Dallas, Austin and Houston and the multi-district Statewide Tools for Teaching Excellence program. The foundation has committed more than $140 million in education initiatives in Texas to date.

Texas as an innovator and national exemplar
Texas has been a leader in tracking student data for 20 years, and the Dell family foundation envisions the move to a revised statewide student data system as the key to unleashing the potential of that data and empowering the Texas education system with timely, pertinent information that informs innovation and decision making in Texas schools. The functionality provided by the creation of a common statewide student data system in Texas is considered ‘cutting-edge’ nationally. In addition, it is anticipated it will increase the state’s competitiveness when applying for a portion of the $250 million in ARRA stimulus funding available under the IES Statewide Longitudinal Data System grant program and a portion of the $4.35 billion in “Race to the Top” funding available to states that create the conditions for education innovation and reform.

“A statewide initiative of this magnitude has the power to deliver insights we’ve never thought possible,” said Superintendent John Folks of the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio. “As a state we’ll be able to assess trends and evaluate approaches most successful in closing the achievement gap for our kids. But the real impact comes into the classroom when I can empower my district teachers with the knowledge they need to intervene early on when students are at risk and completely change the outcome of their students for the better.”

About the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (www.msdf.org) is dedicated to improving the lives of children living in urban poverty around the world. With offices in Austin, TX, New Delhi, India, and Cape Town, South Africa, the Dell family foundation funds programs that foster high-quality public education and childhood health, and improve the economic stability of families living in poverty. The foundation has committed more than $530 million to global children’s issues and community initiatives to date.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is separate and distinct from the Dell Foundation. In any first reference, please use the ‘Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.’ For second references, ‘the Dell family foundation’ may be used.


i & ii TEA Data Collection, Analysis and Reporting Systems Investigation (TDCARSI) Issues and Recommendations