State Education agencies face many challenges to sustain the benefits now being realized as a result of significant Federal investments in the US Education System. As of March 2013, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has awarded $6.5 billion for Race to the Top (1), a competitive grant program designed to encourage and reward states that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform; achieving significant improvement in student outcomes, and ensuring student preparation for success in college and careers. Additionally, the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Grant Program has invested $610 million (2)(of which ARRA contributed $360 million(3)) since 2005 through five rounds of funding to 47 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
While it’s clear there has been a significant investment from Federal Government programs, due to a variety of factors at least 34 states and the District of Columbia have implemented cuts to K-12 education and over 43 states have implemented cuts to public colleges and universities and/or made large increases in college tuition to make up for insufficient state funding(4). It’s important that States act now and focus on developing a sustainable model for their longitudinal data systems.