Transformative upgrades to Michigan's longitudinal data system

April 11, 2024

A new $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will improve Michigan’s statewide longitudinal data system, the go-to source for critical education data going to researchers and other stakeholders in Michigan and nationwide. The grant was awarded to the Center for Educational Performance and Information

(CEPI) and Michigan Department of Education (MDE). The Ford School’s Education Policy Initiative serves as an implementation partner, with senior data architect Kyle Kwaiser leading aspects of the work. 

According to CEPI’s Director of Analytics and Reporting and Project Director Michael McGroarty, the new funds will be used to improve the system architecture and increase capabilities while contributing to the development and use of Common Education Data Standards (CEDS).

The project includes four important outcomes. First, several new data sets will be added to the system including district directory information, staffing data, and Tribal Affiliation. Combined with a dashboard of newly automated and innovative reporting tools, Michigan’s education data will be more inclusive, robust, and accessible than ever before.

Second, the project calls for the entire system to be moved to a cloud-based service. While seamless at the user level, this change to the underlying technology will create a more modern and secure system that is far easier to scale and maintain than the in-house system. This will reduce the amount of time spent on system maintenance and increase the time available to support users and stakeholders.

Another key result of the project is the move to a CEDS-based data model. This transition to a widely accepted standards model will enhance the interoperability of the whole system, bringing its value to entirely new swaths of users in Michigan and across the country. The move will make the exchange of data with other systems and users simpler, more efficient, and easier to understand while also enhancing the State of Michigan’s contributions to the larger community of education data stakeholders.

The final component of the project is the development of a training curriculum to accompany the new system. With the substantial changes and new functionality, it will be important to ensure all stakeholders are familiar with the new capabilities and have access to training materials and opportunities.

Kwaiser was chosen for this effort because of his understanding of the data system and the researchers’ complex needs. He recently accepted a 50% appointment to work on the upgrade.

“It was Kyle’s experience transforming data to meet the specific needs of researchers that really set him apart. Input from Kyle on how the data should best be structured for research was important. That and Kyle’s knowledge and experience working with the data in his continuing work with EPI and the researcher files that are currently being distributed made him an excellent fit for this position,” said McGroarty.

Said Kwaiser, “It’s a fantastic opportunity. The trust and strength of the relationship between EPI and our partners is great.”

Ongoing staffing shortages, shrinking budgets, and outdated systems in districts across Michigan mean the stakes for the project couldn’t be higher.  With the coming improvements, CEPI, EPI, and the rest of their Michigan Education Research Institute collaborators will ensure the State of Michigan continues its leadership in using longitudinal data, data standards, and data quality in education.


Written by Traci Husse