The following profile is a representation of the Alaska public education state longitudinal data system (SLDS) as presented through publicly available resources of public primary, secondary and higher education, information made available to the public through the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the Data Quality Campaign, published research articles, other third party internet resources (as noted), and direct contact with state and federal public education officials. It is not a formal program evaluation.
The information provided is intended for use by academic researchers, state and federal public education policy makers, educators, and student households.
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The Alaska Navigator: Statewide Workforce and Education-Related Statistics (ANSWERS) data system is Alaska’s state longitudinal data system (SLDS) governed by an executive governance body comprised of the members from each of the state agencies that contribute to the ANSWERS. The ANSWERS, created for the purpose of collecting and analyzing Alaska’s public education data at the individual, course, institution, and system levels, aggregates data records from the breadth of the Alaska public education systems. The combined data collection systems are part of a nation-wide effort to record granular public education detail over time in order to document the entirety of students’ education experience. This information is intended to be available for consideration for the purpose of producing improvements in student learning at elementary, secondary, post-secondary, and higher education levels, and to optimize labor market outcomes, individually and generally.
Alaska is one of the 47 states having received public funding to create a state longitudinal data system (SLDS). Despite state-to-state differences, each SLDS shares a common purpose of supporting research and analysis with the intent of informing individual, household, and public policy decisions based on standardized criteria.
 The ANSWERS is Alaska’s Statewide Longitudinal Data System that securely links and de-identifies education and workforce information acpe.alaska.gov/REPORTS/ANSWERS/FAQs
 State longitudinal data systems are intended to enhance the ability of states to efficiently and accurately manage, analyze, and use education data nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/about_SLDS.asp
This review assesses the overall quality of the ANSWERS as an SLDS by considering the nature of the organization maintaining the data system, those agencies and institutions providing inputs to the data system, and to which agencies and institutions the data systems’ outputs are available. The assessment also considers the data system’s funding mechanisms, internal and external researcher data accessibility, the quality of the data system’s public user interface (dashboard), and the data system’s current Data Quality Campaign (DQC) ranking. This report considers each of these criteria pertaining to the ANSWERS and provides contact information to the departments and individuals who maintain and manage the SLDS.
 The Data Quality Campaign is a national, nonprofit organization leading the effort to bring every part of the education community together to empower educators, parents, and policymakers with quality information to make decisions that ensure students excel dataqualitycampaign.org/
Governance and Maintenance
The ANSWERS is governed by the Executive Governance Board, a committee comprised of the chief executives of the four state agencies which contribute data records to the ANSWERS. These members include:
- the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED)
- the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD)
- the President of the University of Alaska (UA)
- the Executive Director of the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE)
The Executive Governance Board is tasked with setting policies for the data system, determining its research agenda, reviewing data requests, and deciding the scope of reporting that will be permitted using the data system. The governance board sets the respective duties and authorities of the agencies involved with the ANSWERS and the level of maintenance these agencies must perform on the data system. Additionally, the governance board establishes which agencies have ownership over the various data records provided in the ANSWERS and for what purposes access to the data system will be granted. The governance board is required to perform these functions in an open and transparent way to ensure the Alaskan public that the sensitive data records contained in the ANSWERS are appropriately stored and utilized.
The ANSWERS is maintained and monitored by the Data Stewards Governing Board, a joint-agency committee composed of members from each of the four state agencies which contribute data records to the ANSWERS. The members of this board are chosen by the Executive Governance Board and are charged with keeping data records contained within the ANSWERS accurate and up-to-date. The stewards board monitors the security of the data system to ensure that it complies with all regulatory requirements ordained by the contributing state agencies and the federal government. Additionally, the stewards board is tasked with creating and updating the data request process that outside researchers must adhere to when requesting data from the ANSWERS. It evaluates all requests and prioritizes which of these requests will be reviewed by the Executive Governance Board. The stewards board also establishes the data access rules outside researchers must adhere if they receive permission to access data records contained in the SLDS.
 Information obtained from Alaska’s 2012 SLDS Grant Application nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/pdf/Alaska2012.pdf
 See ref. 4
The ANSWERS receives data records from each of the state agencies who members comprise the Executive Governance Board. The state agencies provide data records through their own longitudinal data systems which were built prior to the creation of the ANSWERS and serve as the foundational blocks of the SLDS. The data records providing by the participating state agencies allow the ANSWERS to link education and workforce outcomes within the state of Alaska. The reports provided by these linkages enable the participating agencies to analyze and evaluate the performance and outcomes of their education and career development programs and services.
The ANSWERS receives K-12 student data records from the DEED’s Online Alaska School Information System (OASIS). The OASIS is a K-12 state longitudinal data system which collects individual student level records for all public K-12 students in the state of Alaska. This individual student level data is used to analyze student outcomes throughout the state’s public primary and secondary education process and yields invaluable information to the DEED about the effects of education programs and initiatives on student achievement. The ANSWERS receives post-secondary student data records from the UA, the state’s higher education system. The UA is organized around three main administrative offices which maintain individual student level data records on all UA enrollees. These enrollees comprise approximately 95% of all postsecondary students in the state of Alaska. The ANSWERS also receives post-secondary student data records from the ACPE. THE ACPE maintains access to individual student level data records on post-secondary students’ financial aid and scholarship information. The ANSWERS receives workforce data records from the DOLWD’s administrative data stores. These data stores include historical unemployment insurance wage records which contain information on a worker’s employer, industry, place of work, occupation, and quarterly earnings. This information enables the ANSWERS to match students’ programs of studies to the occupation they eventually pursue. This allows the ANSWERS to track the efficacy and outcomes of the DOLWD’s various training programs.
After these data records are matched and linked in the ANSWERS, they are removed of any personally identifiable information such as student name, birthdate, home address and any other traceable ID. This personally identifiable information is replaced with a random-generated ANSWERS number that cannot be used to re-identify specific individuals. The personally identifiable information which is used for the preliminary matching is only stored by the agency providing the data and another data repository that is completely separate from the ANSWERS. The de-identified information remaining in the ANSWERS is stored in the State of Alaska secure data center and is only accessible by a limited number of staff who must meet rigorous standards and follow strict protocols related to protection of data privacy.
The DEED applied for federal funding through the Statewide Longitudinal Data System Grant program administered by the Institute of Education Sciences, an agency of the United States Department of Education, in 2006 and 2012 and was awarded two grants, the 2006 SLDS Grant and the 2012 SLDS Grant, for the purpose of developing the ANSWERS. The 2006 SLDS Grant awarded Alaska $3,506,757 for the purpose of developing the foundation components of the state’s K-12 SLDS. This funding was used to pay for the various costs associated with developing a data system, including: personnel costs, travel costs, equipment costs, contractual costs, and indirect costs. The proposed outcomes to be produced using this funding include:
- Creation of the following foundational state longitudinal data system components
- Unique, permanent student identifier
- Enterprise-wide data architecture
- Procedures for protecting the security, confidentiality, and integrity of data
- Vertical integration of local and State data collections
- A data warehouse or comparable means for managing and storing data
- Creation of the following policy and implementation components
- Capacity to support research on student academic growth
- Capacity to exchange data across institutions
- Capacity to provide reports or ad hoc analyses to a wide range of stakeholders
- Capacity to implement and then sustain the statewide longitudinal data system
- Procedures that support access to the longitudinal system’s database by researchers
- Clear evaluation criteria
The 2012 SLDS Grant awarded Alaska $4,000,000 for purpose of linking the data provided by the state’s K-12 SLDS with postsecondary and workforce data. This funding was used to pay for the various costs associated with developing a data system, including personnel costs, travel costs, equipment costs, contractual costs, and indirect costs. The proposed outcomes to be produced using this funding include:
- Developing a governance model with a team of leaders engaged in the practice of using data to inform decision making and who understand the value of this process for the state
- Creating a secure, state longitudinal data system that allows data about K-12 students, teachers, college students, and industry to be linked together accurately and securely so they can be used to better understand and inform policy makers on the education to workforce cycle
- Creating reports, dashboards, and other information products that provide the right information to the right people in the right formats to better inform research and policy making; provide support to help the data users better utilize the system to improve education and workforce outcomes in Alaska; and increase transparency around education outcomes, generally
 Information obtained from Alaska’s 2006 SLDS Grant Application nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/pdf/Alaska2006.pdf
 See ref. 4
There is no established data request process that outside researchers can follow to request access to the de-identified data record contained in the ANSWERS. The Data Stewards Governance Council had initially been tasked to create a data request process but due to budgetary constraints and changes in the state’s policy initiative preferences, the ANSWERS is no longer intended to be a statewide resource that provides education and workforce information to outside researchers. Instead, the ANSWERS is now a shared internal partner resource for the four partner agencies which provide governance and data records to the data system. Outside researchers interested in analyzing either Alaskan education or workforce information must contact the appropriate partner agency directly.
 See ref. 1
Public User Portal
The ANSWERS does not have a user portal available to the general public, the information contained within the data system can only be accessed by the ANSWERS staff under the direction of one or more of the partner agencies which govern the data system. However, the DEED does offer a public user portal that provides information and reports from the state’s K-12 SLDS. The K-12 SLDS portal is operated for the purpose of providing useful aggregate level data about various education issues to interested parties within the state of Alaska. These parties include administrators, educators, policy makers, parents, students and other parties interested in the education outcomes of the state’s residents. The quality of this portal will be evaluated using several different criteria which include the user-friendliness of the portal, the extend of data offered by the portal, whether the portal is self-sufficient or relies upon other webpages to provide information, and the extent of customizable reports that can be created using the portal.
Alaska K-12 SLDS public user portal evaluation:
- The home page of the portal does not provide a description about the type of information contained within the portal nor does it explain where the information contained in the portal is obtained from. Despite these omissions, the public user portal is easy to navigate and contains fairly self-explanatory information.
- Extend of data offered:
- The public user portal provides information about Alaska’s K-12 public education system and several different education outcomes of Alaska’s public education cohorts from 2009 to 2015. For some education outcomes of Alaska’s public education cohorts, the portal contains information from as far back as 1991. The portal contains information on the following K-12 data: attendance rates, graduation rates, dropout rates, demographic information, course proficiency rates, credit accrual totals, post-secondary enrollment totals and other relevant education information. The portal also contains a Quick Facts section which provides information on teacher to pupil ratios, total instructor counts, and average instructor salaries.
- Self-sufficiency of the portal:
- The public user portal provides direct access to each of the education categories and sub-categories listed on its homepage. The portal also provides contact information for the DEED and links to related departments’ online sites.
- Extent of customizable reports that can be created through the portal:
- The public user portal allows interested parties to customize reports available through the portal by graduating cohort year, district or state level reporting, district name and school name when available. These reports break down cohort analysis by grade level, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status.
 Information obtained from an examination of DEED’s Statistics and Reports page education.alaska.gov/stats/
In 2010, the Alaskan Legislature enacted AS 14.43.840 which directed state agencies and the UA to share data in order to report to the Legislature on outcomes of Alaska’s educational systems. In 2011, the Governor of Alaska enacted Administrative Order No. 261 which established an education data sharing (EDS) policy to promote the sharing of unit level data between state agencies and institutions relative to higher education and career outcomes of Alaskan residents. This order assisted in the development of the ANSWERS and authorized the DEED, ACPE and DOLWD to exchange individual level record data among their agencies, to the extent permitted by applicable statues and regulations to facilitate, to evaluate education program outcomes.
 Information obtained from Alaska’s Administrative Order No. 261 gov.state.ak.us/admin-orders/261.html
The Data Quality Campaign (DQC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan national advocacy organization that evaluates each state’s longitudinal data system to determine how effectively each state uses their data system for education improvement purposes. The DQC’s annual survey, Data for Action (DFA), measures each state’s progress towards implementing the 10 Essential Elements of Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems and the Ten State Actions to Ensure Effective Data Use, a set of elements and policy actions proposed to produce quality data systems and increase student achievement within in each state.
Alaska has currently met each of the 10 essential elements:
- Element 1 – Statewide student identifier
- Element 2 – Student-level enrollment data
- Element 3 – Student-level test data
- Element 4 – Information on untested students
- Element 5 – Statewide teacher identifier with a teacher-student match
- Element 6 – Student-level course completion data
- Element 7 – Student-level SAT, ACT, and Advanced Placement exam data
- Element 8 – Student-level graduation and dropout data
- Element 9 – Ability to match student-level P-12 and higher education data
- Element 10 – State data audit system
Alaska has currently met 7 of the 10 state actions:
- State Action 1 – Link state K-12 data systems with early learning, workforce, and other critical state agency data systems
- State Action 2 – Create stable, sustainable support for longitudinal data systems
- State Action 3 – Develop governance structures for longitudinal data systems
- State Action 4 – Build state data repositories
- State Action 6 – Create progress reports with student-level data for educators, students, and parents
- State Action 7 – Create reports with longitudinal statistics to guide system-level change
- State Action 8 – Develop a purposeful research agenda
Alaska has failed to meet the following state actions:
- State Action 5 – Provide timely, role-based access to data
- State Action 9 – Implement policies and promote practices to build educators’ capacity to use data
- State Action 10 – Promote strategies to raise awareness of available data
Data Quality Campaign score: 7/10
It should be noted that that Data Quality Campaign assessed each state’s progress towards completing the state actions in 2014.
 DQC’s annual survey, Data for Action (DFA), is a powerful tool to inform efforts in education to better use data in decision making. It is a series of analyses that highlight state progress and key priorities to promote the effective use of longitudinal data to improve student achievement
 DQC’s 10 Essential Elements of Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems and 10 State Actions to Ensure Effective Data Use provide a roadmap for state policymakers to create a culture of effective data use in which quality data are not only collected but also used to increase student achievement
Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education
Phone: (907) 465-2962
PO Box 110505
Juneau, AK 99811
Alaska Department of Education and Early Development
Phone: (907) 465-2800
801 West 10th Street, Suite 200
PO Box 110500
Juneau, AK 99811-0500
Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development
Phone: (907) 465-2700
PO Box 111149
Juneau, AK 99811
1016 West Sixth Avenue, Suite 401
Anchorage, AK 99501
SLDS stakeholders listed under Contacts (above) have been provided a copy of this State Profile and given an opportunity to provide comments in response. No comments have been received for this state to date.