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MDE Awarded $6.6 Million Grant to Improve Statewide Longitudinal Data System

September 28, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education will receive $6.6 million over the next four years to enhance the Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) designed to help the state make data-informed decisions to improve student learning and outcomes, as well as to facilitate research to increase student achievement and close achievement gaps.

Mississippi was one of 16 states out of 43 applicants to receive a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), which was authorized by the Educational Technical Assistance Act of 2002. The SLDS Grant Program has awarded competitive, cooperative agreement grants to states since 2005. Senate Bill 2371 of the 2011 Legislative Session established Mississippi’s SLDS.

The MDE applied for the grant to focus on two areas – research and evaluation and early learning. The $6,588,210 grant will be divided between the MDE and NSPARC, an interdisciplinary research center at Mississippi State University. NSPARC’s research is used by policymakers to look at outcomes and help design and evaluate programs for workforce development, education, and economic development.

“An increase in our capacity to conduct research through hiring professionals for developing advanced dashboard analytics, coupled with professional development to nurture a culture of data literacy and sharing from the pre-kindergarten classroom to college, university, and workforce provider, will enable a level of collaboration never before achieved in Mississippi,” said Dr. John Q. Porter, MDE’s chief information officer over the Office of Technology and Strategic Services.

Dr. Domenico “Mimmo” Parisi is executive director of National Strategic Planning & Analysis Research Center (NSPARC), a research unit of Mississippi State University. NSPARC is partnering with MDE to conduct research aimed at improving the quality of early childhood outcomes.

“Receiving this $6.6 million competitive federal grant speaks volumes about Mississippi’s quality of work in the area of early childhood. NSPARC’s collaboration with MDE and other state agencies illustrates how the academic and technical expertise of a university can provide innovative solutions to complex education issues,” he said.

The MDE plans to use funds for several priorities, including:

  • Start-up costs for a new Office of Research and Statistics within MDE to perform analysis of longitudinal data related to college and career readiness, standards and assessment and early childhood education;
  • Professional development on data literacy for stakeholders who would benefit from research;
  • Finding best practices to improve educational environments, policies, and curricular and instructional methods;
  • Development of data dashboards to include advanced data analytics;
  • Linkages of early childhood data to the SLDS in three major sectors: early learning and development, health, mental health, and nutrition; and
  • Family support, for answering research questions related to early childhood program effectiveness.

Mississippi has steadily increased its capacity to provide a secure, accessible data system for studying the short and long-term effects of educational programming since the late 1990s. By building on gains made from three previously awarded SLDS grants, MDE will make highly significant progress in improving student educational outcomes in the state.

Media Contact: 
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications

Jean Cook, APR
Communications Specialist