Based on its scores on national and international assessments, Massachusetts students consistently lead the nation when it comes to achievement in core academic subjects. Yet the state continues to struggle with persistent opportunity and performance gaps, particularly among historically marginalized student subgroups. Reviewing statewide indicators like those found on the Rennie Center’s Data Dashboard offers important information on student progress and proficiency, but these indicators can only tell part of the story.
In addition to looking at state-level aggregates, education leaders must also examine the local context to identify community strengths, as well as areas in need of improvement. Existing data sources offer many ways to learn more about the student population, the educator workforce, and the resources available to support education within local communities. However, these data sources can be difficult to track down, and many people may not be aware that they exist.
We have assembled a list of some of the most useful data resources for understanding the status of the education system within Massachusetts schools and districts. We hope this page will be a resource for individuals to navigate the various available datasets, and we see it as a living document. Please contact Senior Associate Sinead Chalmers at email@example.com with any questions, suggestions or additions to this resource guide.
PUBLICLY AVAILABLE DATA
Strategies for Children Fast Facts: The “Fast Facts” provide a community-level review of key educational benchmarks in three categories: early education and care, K-12 education, and the child population from birth to age 18. Individuals can search for their communities on Fast Facts and compare local and state data across key educational benchmarks, including student demographics and the number/type of early education providers.
School and District Profiles: The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education collects a wide range of data to help improve teaching and learning in Massachusetts schools. The state also uses school and student data to inform the accountability system. Individuals can use the school and district profiles to examine data about student enrollment and achievement, educators, and district indicators such as per-pupil spending. For district administrators, this section also includes links to Edwin Analytics to help analyze data and to the Early Warning Indicator System, which gives districts a chance to identify students who would benefit from extra support to remain on-track to graduation.
Statewide Reports: The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education produces statewide reports on a range of topics within the following categories: assessment and accountability, educator preparation, in-service educators, student enrollment, participation and performance data, finance, and high school and beyond. The reports include both district- and state-level aggregates.
District Analysis and Review Tools (DARTs): The DARTs offer snapshots of district and school performance, allowing users to easily track select data elements over time and make meaningful comparisons to the state or to "comparable" communities. The elements in each DART tool cover a broad range of district and school data including demographics, assessment, student support, educators, finances, and achievement gaps.
Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC): The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) collects data about key education and civil rights issues from almost every public school and district in the country through the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). Districts and schools self-report CRDC data directly to OCR. Users can search for individual schools and districts to find out more information on a range of measures within five categories: 1) school/district characteristics and membership, 2) staffing and finance, 3) pathways to college and career readiness, 4) college and career readiness, and 5) discipline, restraints/seclusion, harassment/bullying.
Chapter 70 District Profiles: The Chapter 70 program is the major program of state aid to public elementary and secondary schools. In addition to providing state aid to support school operations, it also establishes minimum spending requirements for each school district and minimum requirements for each municipality's share of school costs. Individuals can use this database to examine each school district’s yearly spending and state aid totals in comparison to the foundation budget. Additionally, trend data is available for each year up to FY93.
Resource Allocation and District Action Reports (RADAR): RADAR reports enable district leaders to compare their staffing, class size, special education services, school performance, and per-pupil spending data with similar districts. Users can also view trends over five years, allowing easier observation of trends.
Youth Risk Behavior Survey: The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)—in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH)—conducts the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) in randomly selected public high schools in every odd-numbered year. The Massachusetts YRBS focuses on the major risk behaviors that threaten the health and safety of young people. This anonymous survey includes questions about tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, sexual behaviors, dietary behaviors, physical activity, and behaviors associated with intentional or unintentional injuries. This data is only available as a statewide aggregate and for Boston, and the full data set is available upon request for researchers and students.
Performance Measurement Reporting System (PMRS): The PMRS provides a comprehensive examination of the performance of Massachusetts’ community colleges and state universities. Data is reported in four categories: Access & Affordability, Student Success & Completion, Workforce Alignment & Development, and Fiscal Stewardship. PMRS also includes data on equity gaps between Latinx and White students, African American and White students, male and female students, and Pell Grant recipients and non-Pell Grant recipients.
U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard: The U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard presents institution-level statistics on the average annual cost of attendance, student loan debt, and loan repayment. Both public and private institutions are included.
U.S. Census Bureau: The U.S. Census QuickFacts provides tables, maps, and charts of frequently requested statistics from many Census Bureau censuses, surveys, and programs. Profiles are available by state and county. Cities and towns with a population of 5,000 or more are also included. Individuals can use this resource to examine and disaggregate data on the local population, including education, housing, and income & poverty.
DATA AVAILABLE BY REQUEST
SIMS: The Student Information Management System (SIMS) is a student-level data collection system that allows DESE to collect and analyze accurate and comprehensive information to meet federal and state reporting requirements and inform policy and programmatic decisions. The SIMS includes 52 data elements within each student record. Individuals can submit data requests to access deidentified SIMS data on students’ living and learning experiences.
EPIMS: Through the Education Personnel Information Management System (EPIMS), DESE collects demographic data and work assignment information on individual public-school educators. Individuals can submit data requests to access deidentified EPIMS data that can be useful in identifying areas of expertise and areas for additional support within and across school communities.
DATA AVAILABLE TO SCHOOLS AND DISTRICTS
Early Warning Indicator System (EWIS): In the Early Warning Indicator System, the state brings together student-level indicators that districts and schools can use to identify students who are at risk of not meeting important academic goals. This comprehensive system spans first grade through high school graduation and beyond.
Views of Climate and Learning (VOCAL) Survey: VOCAL is an annual survey sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. In 2019, it was administered to students in grade 4, grade 5, grade 8, and grade 10. Participating students were asked to share their views on three dimensions of school climate (engagement, safety, and environment) and nine individual topics: cultural competence, relationships, participation, emotional safety, physical safety, bullying/cyber-bullying, instructional environment, mental health environment, and discipline environment.