California Governor, Schools Chief Square Off Over Data System

California finally has a state budget, even if many observers say the $87.5 billion spending plan will do little to solve the state’s enduring financial woes. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has since weighed in with a series of line-item vetoes, and one of them in particular—to the state’s problem-plagued school data system—has drawn the wrath of state schools superintendent Jack O’Connell.

O’Connell called the veto “shortsighted, ill-informed, and hypocrticial,” and says it will hinder the implementation of California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, known as CALPADS.

The schools chief says the veto would cut $6.8 million from CALPADS, which is designed to allow for an examination of student test scores, demographic data, teacher assignment by course and individual students’ course enrollment and completion. School districts across the state have found that the system, which was built by IBM, has made it difficult for them to enter student data. Earlier this year, O’Connell ordered a top-to-bottom review of the system and put a stop to any changes to it until it was complete.

Despite those woes, O’Connell says that the system is improving and is now successfully collecting reams of valuable information. More than 90 percent of the state’s districts and charter schools have successfully submitted data through CALPADS, he said. In one more year, California will be able to provide a four-year graduation rate based on student-level data—quite an accomplishment, O’Connell argues.

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