The following profile is a representation of the Pennsylvania 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.

Introduction Evaluation Criteria Governance and Maintenance Stakeholders
Funding Researcher Access Public User Portal Legal Statues
DQC Contacts Schematic State Response
Download State Profile PIMS Dashboard PIMS Website NCES Funding:
2006   2009


The Pennsylvania Information Management System (PIMS) is Pennsylvania’s public education state longitudinal data system (SLDS)[1] governed by the Pennsylvania P-20 Council, an intergovernmental committee comprised of state agents, state representatives, and presidents of Pennsylvania’s public higher education institutions. The PIMS, created for the purpose of collecting and analyzing Pennsylvania public education data at the individual, course, institution, and system levels, aggregates data records from the breadth of the Pennsylvania 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 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.

Pennsylvania 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.

[1] State longitudinal data systems are intended to enhance the ability of states to efficiently and accurately manage, analyze, and use education data
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Evaluation Criteria

This review assesses the overall quality of the PIMS 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)[1] ranking. This report considers each of these criteria pertaining to PIMS and provides contact information to the departments and individuals who maintain and manage the SLDS.

[1] 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
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The PIMS is governed by the Pennsylvania P-20 Council, a committee comprised of the representatives from the stage departments and public education insitutions that provides guidance to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) which maintains the PIMS. The Pennsylvania P-20 Council was formally created by the Pennsylvania legislative body in 2005. Its purpose is to coordinate the educational efforts of publicly-funded programs and initiatives through the Pennsylvania public secondary and post-secondary education systems. The council forms partnerships among groups working to improve the state’s public education systems and makes recommendations to the relevant state agencies to ensure a seamless education system for Pennsylvania’s students. The council is comprised of the following members:

  • Governor of the State of Pennsylvania
  • President, State Board of Education (Co-chair)
  • Secretary of Public Education (Co-chair)
  • President, Pennsylvania State University
  • President, Pennsylvania Technical and Community College
  • President, Goldery Beacom College
  • President, University of Pennsylvania
  • President, Wesley College
  • President, Wilmington University
  • President, Pennsylvania State Chamber of Commerce
  • Chair, Business Roundtable Education Committee
  • Chair, Pennsylvania Early Care and Education Council
  • Chair, House Education Committee
  • Chair, Senate Education Committee

The Pennsylvania P-20 Council monitors the NDDE to ensure that data sharing between the state agencies who provide data records to the PIMS is conducted securely and responsibly. It also ensures that the data records within the PIMS are collected, stored and analyzed in processes compliant with FERPA, HIPAA, state and other federal laws pertaining to public student information.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PIMS) is the state department that manages and maintains the PIMS. The PDE completed the first significant phase of the PIMS construction in 2012. This phase consisted of the development of the Insight Data Warehouse and the Insight Dashboard. The Insight Data Warehouse acts as a data repository for the student data records contained within the PIMS. The Insight Dashboard is the user interface which state agents utilize to analyze the student data records contained in the Insight Data Warehouse. Since 2012, the PDE has continued to develop the PIMS, increasing the amount of sources which the data system receives student data records from and augmenting its analysis capabilities. The NDDE also trains educators and administrators in data literacy and comprehension to ensure that they follow data quality standards when uploading data to the PIMS and properly interpret the reports generated by the PIMS.

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The PIMS receives data records from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and the public higher education institutions that participate on the Pennsylvania P-20 Council. These state agencies and institutions provide data records through their in-house data systems which were built prior to the creation of the PIMS. The data records provided by these state agents allows the PIMS to link secondary and postsecondary education outcomes within the state of Pennsylvania. The reports provided by these linkages enable the state agencies to analyze and evaluate the performance and outcomes of their education programs, initiatives, and services.

The PIMS receives K-12 student data records from the NDDE which collects data from every public secondary education institution in PIMS. These data records contain information about Pennsylvania students, educators and school systems. The student data records provide information about student demographics, performance evaluations, assessment scores, enrollment records, graduation and dropout rates. The PIMS receives early childhood data records from the Pennsylvania Department of Early Learning (PDEL), an office within the PDE. These early childhood data records information about education and development assessments. The PIMS receives higher education data records from the public higher education institutions who participate on the Pennsylvania P-20 Council. These higher education data records contain information about student enrollment, courses, performance, demographics and graduation rates.

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The PDE 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 2012 and was awarded the 2012 SLDS Grant. The 2012 SLDS Grant awarded Pennsylvania $4,616,250 for the purpose of further developing the PIMS. 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:

  • Assist teachers to build their local assessments, present them on-line to their students, score them and analyze the results for interpretation within the context of their own curriculum
  • Train and support all user of the Insight Data Warehouse and Dashboard to improve and maintain data quality as well as to ensure proper interpretations and use of the data and reports from the Insight Dashboard.
  • Complete migration of legacy repositories and reports to the Insight Data Warehouse
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Research Accommodation

The PDE requires researchers working outside the Pennsylvania public education system to complete an external data request form. This external data request must contain the following information:

  • Contact information
    • Name
    • Organization
    • Email and Phone Number
  • Data description
    • How will the data be used?
    • What is the preferred format for receiving data?
    • Describe the requested data
  • Security plan
    • Description of the procedure that will be uses to protect confidentiality of individuals

External data requests will be sent to the PDE External Data Request Committee (EDRC) for review and decision. This committee meets once a month to review data requests. Outside researchers will be notified of the committee’s decision within three to five business days. Due to limited resources, the PDE requires up to forty-five days to provide data for approved data requests.

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Public User Portal

The PDE provides a public education data records on its website for public use. This information provides useful aggregate level data about various education issues to interest parties within the state of Pennsylvania. These parties include administrators, educators, policy makers, parents, students and other parties interested in education outcomes within the state of Pennsylvania. The quality of these information will be evaluated using several different criteria which include: the user-friendliness of the web-page, the extent of data offered by the web-page, whether the web-page is self-sufficient or relies upon other webpages to provide information, and the extent of customizable reports that can be created using the webpage.

  • User-friendliness:
    • The website does not provide a description of the type of information contained within the site nor does it explain where the information contained in the site is obtained from. Despite these omissions, the public user portal is easy to navigate and contains self-explanatory information reports.
  • Extent of data offered:
    • The website provides district and school profile information on every school in the Pennsylvania public education system. These profiles contain information on student enrollment, staff composition, courses offered, student demographics, graduation and dropout rates. The website also provides annual reports on Pennsylvania’s overall public education system and specialty reports on specific education topics and questions
  • Self-sufficiency of the portal:
    • The website provides direct access to the information and reports listed on the site.
  • Extent of customizable reports that can be created through the website:
    • The website allows interested parties to customize the reports available through the website by district and school specification. In addition, interested parties can further customize the reports through sub-categories such as About, Information, Student and Finance tabs. Once interested parties have designated what information they would like to view, the report is automatically generated on-site.
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In 2012, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives introducing House Bill 212 which allowed sharing of data between state agencies for required evaluation imposed by state or federal law. It also allowed sharing of data for research questions approved by the Pennsylvania P-20 Council.

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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)[1], 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[2], a set of elements and policy actions proposed to produce quality data systems and increase student achievement within in each state.

Pennsylvania 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

Pennsylvania has currently met 7 of the 10 state actions:

  • 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
  • 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

Pennsylvania has currently not met 3 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 2 – Create stable, sustainable support for longitudinal data systems
  • State Action 5 – Provide timely, role-based access to data

Data Quality Campaign score: 7/10

[1] 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
[2] 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
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State Response

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.

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