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CTE Data Offers Insight and Autonomy

Friday, October 22, 2021

Bulb in handAs districts around the state work to expand equity in CTE programs, a major tool in their toolbox is WISEdata, Wisconsin’s statewide longitudinal data system. Not long ago, the CTE data reporting system was largely manual, but in 2017, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) began integrating CTE data into WISEdata. The shift in the reporting process was a heavy lift for district data staff, but the project brought districts a level of autonomy as well as several other advantages.

There was “a steep learning curve for many school districts,” acknowledges Mai Choua Thao, DPI’s former CTE data consultant, who provided technical assistance to help districts navigate the change. “Districts continue to make meaningful progress,” she says. As a result, the project has achieved higher security and protection of student data, reduced the burden to districts, and will continue to improve data accuracy over time.

One of the key advantages is the autonomy districts now have to access data. District data managers submit their data to the system, which flags potential data errors and warnings for districts to review and resolve before being accepted into WISEdata. And the system allows districts to monitor their data in live time, resulting in more accurate reporting.

Once uploaded, aggregated information is available to anyone through the WISEdash portal, allowing for greater transparency. For example, if you wanted to compare the number of CTE students in your district to the number in another district, here are the steps:

  • Go to the WISEdash Education Data page. You may want to watch the three-minute Quick-Start video for an overview.
  • Go to the “Coursework” tab, and you’ll have access to “Career Technical Education” data. Choose “Career Technical Education Comparison.”
  • On the “Filter Data” dropdown menu, select a “District.” Finally, choose a “Comparison District.”

Though this is a simple example, district data managers have additional access to their school’s student data (not available to the public), which allows for creating even more helpful trends and analyses.

Most notably, the new system has enabled DPI to create easy-to-use dynamic data tables and dashboards for districts that support the evaluation of local CTE programs, including the identification of gaps and disparities of special populations participating in CTE. Thao says the dashboards have allowed districts to dig deep into their own data, which often reveals a data story about CTE in local districts.

“With the new system, we have meaningful and lasting opportunities to expand and improve CTE throughout the state,” says Thao. “And districts have more understanding and control of their own data.”

—submitted by Mai Choua Thao, former CTE Team data consultant, Wisconsin Department of Public Instructio