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To improve the progression of students through the educational system and to improve education quality, California needs a robust data system that can track an individual student’s progress from kindergarten to college and beyond. Such a data system, commonly called a student unit record (SUR), would contain an individual electronic record of every student enrolled in an educational institution. Currently, 18 states can track individual students from kindergarten through postsecondary education, but California is not one of them. The authors of this report document the state of the various student data systems available for California’s four education segments — K–12 public schools, the community colleges, California State University, and the University of California. They also assess the feasibility of and challenges to developing a SUR data system in the state. Finally, they identify steps that could be taken toward building and maintaining an integrated SUR system for California.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    California’s Current Student Data Systems

  • Chapter Three

    Major Challenges and System Design Issues

  • Chapter Four

    What Next for California?

  • Appendix A

    Selected Characteristics of States Selected for Interviews

  • Appendix B

    Illustrative Interview Protocol

  • Appendix C

    California Student Record Data Systems

The research described in this report was conducted within RAND Education and supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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