Career-technical education leaders told a state advisory group Dec. 20 that the Ohio Department of Education's (ODE) data system is error-prone, not user friendly, and does not provide timely access to information. Department officials said a pending overhaul of the system should resolve many issues.
Several career-tech programs submitted remarks to the Education Management Information System (EMIS) Advisory Board to highlight concerns about data accuracy problems with big implications, including effects on career-technical report cards. The education management information system advisory board was established to make recommendations to the department of education for improving the operation of the education management information system established underthe Revised Code. Topics that may be addressed by the recommendations include the definitions used for the data maintained in the system, reporting deadlines, rules and guidelines for the operation of the system adopted by the state board of education, and any other issues raised by education personnel who work with the system.
"Data issues have become a major obstacle for all career-technical schools and something our employees spend hundreds of hours each year trying to decipher. We do not seek a legislative change, but hope that we can begin working with the department to improve the EMIS process/framework, as it has now presented significant and unnecessary challenges to our schools for several years. At minimum, if nothing changes, we would suggest crafting an administrative rule or state law requiring our schools to review EMIS data each year prior to it being made public. This would at least ensure we get an opportunity to correct any inaccuracies," said Mary Beth Freeman, superintendent of Delaware Area Career Center.
"Anyone who's worked with EMIS knows just the normal procedure for using EMIS takes a lot of time. Now we're going back and asking a lot of questions," Freeman said.
Penta Career Center EMIS/Testing Manager Brooke Click shared results of a survey she and two colleagues distributed to dozens EMIS coordinators and other career-tech administrators. She testified on behalf of the Ohio Association of Career-Technical Educators, Ohio Association of Career-Technical Superintendents and Ohio Association of Compact and Comprehensive Career-Technical Schools.
David Ehle, director of EMIS, said for a long time career-tech data systems ran separately, managed by a staff who knew them "forward and backward." But those staff have since retired, and the transition from measuring the school year in hours rather than days forced a rewrite of the entire career-tech legacy system. The funding, assessment and accountability elements of that system were not connected, he said.
"We've recognized those issues over the last couple of years. As we had capacity come available about six to seven months ago, we convened a group to start looking at all these different systems … and do a rewrite of those systems from scratch," Ehle said.
Parts of the new system related to funding are 90 percent complete and expected to be finished by the end of January. Once in place, the updates should catch issues the local officials raised Wednesday. "All of this code has been written to flow naturally into the whole assessment and accountability system," Ehle said.
"I do want to say to those who have testified as well, we do feel your pain," Ehle said.
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