The following profile is a representation of the New Jersey 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 New Jersey Longitudinal Data System (NJ SMART) is New Jersey’s public education state longitudinal data system (SLDS) managed by the New Jersey Department of Education (NDOE). The NJ SMART, created for the purpose of collecting and analyzing New Jersey public education data at the individual, course, institution, and system levels, links data records from the breadth of the New Jersey 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 the students’ education experience. This information is intended to be available for analysis and public policy 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.
New Jersey 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.
 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 NJ SMART 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 NJ SMART 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 http://dataqualitycampaign.org/
The NJ SMART is governed by the New Jersey Department of Education’s (NDOE) Data Management Team (DMT), an oversight committee comprised of representatives from each of the key areas in the NJ SMART. The DMT is comprised of the following NDOE representatives:
- Deputy Commissioner
- School Finance and Operations Director
- Special Services Director
- SLDS Project Director
- SLDS Training Manager
- Federal and State Reporting Manager
- School Nutrition Director
- Career & Technology Education Director
- AYP Director
- Assessments Director
- OIT Director
- Director of Technology from a school district
The DMT closely monitors the development of the NJ SMART and other data related projects and initiatives occurring within the department. The SLDS Project Director provides status reports to DMT on a monthly basis. The DMT has been actively involved in New Jersey SLDS project since its inception and each member serves as the data steward for their program area. Policy decisions are overseen by an internal Leadership Team which is comprised of all Department Policy Directors. The Leadership Team, under the direction of the Commissioner, is responsible for developing and executing a strategic plan for PK-12 public education in New Jersey, budgeting for the implementation of the plan, providing information to the New Jersey Legislature, the New Jersey State Board of Education (NSBOE), and the general public on the current status and future needs of New Jersey public education system.
The NDOE manages and maintains the NJ SMART in partnership with New Jersey State Office of Information Technology (OIT). The data system is located in-house OIT and operated by the NDOE’s SLDS project team and the New Jersey State Office of Information Technology (OIT) staff. The OIT aided the NDOE in the development of NJ SMART and continues to provide maintenance support to the data system. These parties maintain, support and evaluate the technical infrastructure of the NJ SMART, including its data security, accessibility, application maintenance, and network services. The OIT staff works closely with the SLDS project staff to develop and implement an infrastructure architecture that is efficient, cost-effective, and fully integrated with the existing NJ SMART and other state agency servers.
The NJ SMART receives data records from the NDOE and the University of New Jersey System (UN). The NDOE provides K-12 data records from each public Local Education Agency (LEA) in New Jersey. The UV provides post-secondary data records from each of the universities and colleges participating in the UV System. These data records are linked through the use of a state assigned unique identifier variable which is assigned to each student that enters into the New Jersey public education system. This state assigned ID is attached to New Jersey students throughout their education careers, including their higher education efforts if they continue on their education process after high school. The NDOE data records contain a significant amount of information on each student, including graduation and dropout events, course attendance and completion rates, performance, demographic characteristics, and other identifier information. The UV data records also contain a significant amount of information on each student, including course attendance and completion rates, student demographic characteristics, credit obtainment, remediation efforts, and graduation rates.
The NDOE 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 2007 and 2009. New Jersey was awarded two grants, the 2007 SLDS Grant and the 2009 ARRA SLDS Grant for the purpose of developing and enhancing its state longitudinal data system. The 2007 SLDS Grant awarded New Jersey $3,227,231 for the purpose of building the foundational components of the NJ SMART. This funding was used for the various costs associated with developing a data system, including: travel costs, equipment costs, supplies costs, contractual costs, and indirect costs. The proposed outcomes to be produced using this funding include:
- Create a standard statewide Data Dictionary for education data to facilitate data collection from LEAs and the migration of data from disparate departmental databases into a central data warehouse. The Data Dictionary will include meta-data as well as SIF and NCES data element standards.
- Build a comprehensive central Data Warehouse serving as a repository of PreK-20 data from department databases to support data driven decision making, timely and complete State and federal reporting, as well as research and analysis of the effectiveness of intervention programs.
- Develop a single sign-on Education Portal to provide secure and public access for all stakeholders for all education data from department data systems including the central data warehouse.
- Establish technology standards for State and LEA systems, including Full Integration of SIF Agents and Zone Integration Servers, to enable collection of staff, student, assessment and school funding data.
The 2009 ARRA SLDS Grant awarded New Jersey $7,315,000 for the purpose of further expanding the capabilities of the NJ SMART. This funding was used to pay for the various costs associated with the development of a data system, which include: travel costs, equipment costs, supplies costs, contractual costs, and indirect costs. The proposed outcomes to be produced using this funding include:
- Improve teacher effectiveness by implementing a web-based Educator Credentialing System and comprehensive web-based Teacher Quality Management System
- Expand the SLDS Education Data Warehouse from a Pre-K through 12 to an Early Childhood through 20 system
- Deliver comprehensive stakeholder training programs to encourage the use of longitudinal data by the general public, educators, at-risk intervention programs, community groups and researchers for the purpose of evaluating programs and improving student achievement
- Partner with the New Jersey Education Research Policy Institute (NEPRI) to conduct longitudinal research studies utilizing the expanded TEAchME longitudinal data
Outside researchers interested in utilizing New Jersey public education data for research must submit a data request to the NDOE. This request must contain the following information:
- Requestor Information
- Full Name
- Contact Telephone
- Request Date
- Date Needed By
- Brief Description of Research
- Data Requested Granularity
- Data Requested Items
- Data Items
- Detailed Description of Research, Purpose, Methodology
Public User Portal
The NDOE has created a public user portal for the NJ SMART, named the NJ SMART Data Warehouse. The Data Warehouse puts data about New Jersey‘s schools in a centralized location which is easy to access and use. The public user portal provides aggregate level data about various education issues within New Jersey relating to its students and education institutions. This portal is intended to provide the state’s education stakeholders include policy makers, administrators, educators, parents, students and other interested parties within New Jersey. The quality of this portal will be evaluated using several different criteria which include: the user-friendliness of the portal, the extent 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 made using the portal.
NJ SMART Evaluation:
- The portal is easily-accessible through the NJ SMART Data Warehouse tab, located in the NDOE online site. The NJ SMART Data Warehouse page provides a comprehensive overview of each of the information sections provided within the portal. The portal is intuitive to use and easy to navigate. Users are provided a clear overview of the sections contained in the portal and are provided step by step instructions on how to use the tools in these sections.
- Extent of data offered:
- The portal provided K-12 data on each school district and county in the state of New Jersey. It also provides K-12 data on the overall education outcomes of the state in general and the amount of students that are moving onto higher education or post-secondary institutions.
- Self-sufficiency of the portal:
- The portal provides direct access to the district and school reports that can be generated within it. In addition to this, the portal provides a connection to the NJ SMART Data Warehouse and all of the tools, resources and information that can be found within the site.
- Extent of customizable reports that can be created through the portal:
- The portal allows users to customize reports by deciding whether they would like to look at the education performance and characteristics of the entire state or a particular district or school. The portal then allows uses to choose what information will be provided within the report. Some information available to be selected include cohort year, student demographic characteristics, school personnel composition, and state assessment scores. Once the user has designated what report they would like to view, the report is automatically generated on-site.
In 2011, the New Jersey legislature passed Statute 6005 which officially created the mandate for the MDE to develop and maintain the NJ SMART. The statute establishes the capabilities that the NJ SMART must be capable of performing and state and federal laws the data system must adhere to. The statute states:
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.
New Jersey 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
New Jersey has currently met 5 of the 10 state actions:
- 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 7 – Create reports with longitudinal statistics to guide system-level change
- State Action 8 – Develop a purposeful research agenda
New Jersey has currently not met 5 of the 10 state actions:
- State Action 1 – Link state K-12 data systems with early learning, postsecondary, workforce, and other critical state agency data systems
- State Action 5 – Provide timely, role-based access to data
- State Action 6 – Create progress reports with student-level data for educators, students, and parents
- 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: 5/10
 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
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.