Keric Ashley doesn't mind a challenge. The former schoolteacher and principal spent the last eight years at the helm of the Educational Data Management Division at the California Department of Education. He and his staff worked to complete a state data system to track student information known as CalPADS – the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System.
State Schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson has named Ashley director of the Analysis, Measurement and Accountability Reporting Division of the state Education Department. He is a key player in redesigning the state's accountability system for schools. This is particularly important as the state prepares to begin computerized testing tied to new curriculum, as well as to revamp the Academic Performance Index – which compares the academic performance of students in each school.
>Tell me about your new job?
This new position is actually a merger of sorts. The DataQuest staff, which oversees the reporting of data available online at the California Department of Education website, is moving to the Analysis, Measurement and Accountability Reporting Division.
The merger will allow better communication between workers involved in data collection and those involved in data reporting.
CalPADS will continue under the supervision of another manager.
>Have you been working on any new projects?
We have recently finished the School Quality Snapshot, an online tool that condenses the 35- to 50-page School Accountability Report Card down to a two-page snapshot. The tool – on the CDE website (http://www6.cde.ca.gov/ schoolqualitysnapshot) was unveiled earlier this month. People are making good use of it.
The school snapshot includes test scores, enrollment by ethnicity, average class size, fitness information and information about graduation rates. The team may soon include data snapshots by topic.
>What do you expect to be your biggest challenges in your new job?
There are three big changes coming up – the expected reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, which is a federal law requiring that all students be at grade level in reading and math by 2014; a new state law that changes how school API scores are determined; and new Common Core school curriculum and assessments.
All three will have a big impact on how data is collected and reported. All three of these changes are expected to be fully implemented by the end of 2016.
>Has the plug been pulled on the data system that was to collect information about teachers, known as the California Longitudinal Teacher integrated Data Education System, or CalTIDES?
Yes, the project isn't funded. People have expressed concern about the state putting together a teacher data system, but that the project ended because the governor is concerned about cost pressures.
The state is able to meet federal reporting requirements without the system. What many people don't know is that there is some teacher-level data collected by CalPADs, although it is not as robust as CalTIDES would have been. CalPADS tracks credentials, demographics and courses assigned to teachers.