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New England Secondary School Consortium’s Common Data Project

Five New England States Work to Make Data Quality and Regional Comparability in Public Education a Top Priority

Since 2009, the five state education agencies participating in the New England Secondary School Consortium (Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) have been collecting, calculating, and reporting high school graduation rates, high school dropout rates, and postsecondary enrollment, persistence, and completion rates using a common set of procedures and methodologies developed by a regional team of data specialists from each of the five state agencies. The Consortium recently released the annual report on public-school performance for the 2013–2014 school year.

“The member states’ continued collaboration on data collection and reporting methods has resulted in new data that can be used to make informed policy decisions at the state level in New Hampshire,” said New Hampshire Commissioner of Education Virginia Barry.

“A data project of this kind—for which multiple states collaborated to develop agreed-upon approaches to data collection and analysis—yields new data that is invaluable across New England,” said Eve Goldberg, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s director of research and evaluation. “The New England Secondary School Consortium data team continues to set a national standard for state collaboration on and commitment to producing reliable, high-quality data using common methods of collecting, reporting, and measuring impact.”

While education agencies throughout the country have made significant investments in their individual state data systems, the New England Secondary School Consortium’s Common Data Project may be the first initiative of its kind to bring together several states in a collaborative multiyear effort to improve the accuracy, reliability, and comparability of public-education data across state lines. As more school-improvement initiatives and programs use state-collected data on public schools to determine priorities and measure progress, data quality has become an increasingly higher priority for educators, policy makers, and philanthropic foundations.

“The five member states of the Consortium have set the bar high for the country by using data across states to expand the national dialogue regarding success in both secondary and postsecondary institutions of learning,” said J.P. Beaudoin, founder of Research in Action, Inc. and an advisor to the project. “Moreover, they have worked cooperatively to establish common performance indicators that are of significant importance to local communities, educators, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and others.”

Through the Common Data Project, the five agencies of education develop standardized procedures intended to eliminate unwanted variance that may result from divergent system designs, differing interpretations of agreed-upon rules, or computational errors. Recognizing the critical importance of accurate, high-quality data when it comes to making informed decisions about improving public schools, project leaders created a series of quality-control mechanisms that further improve the reliability and comparability of state-reported data.

The New England Secondary School Consortium is a regional partnership working to advance forward-thinking innovations in secondary education that will empower the next generation of citizens, workers, and leaders. The Consortium is funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and coordinated by the Great Schools Partnership.
The project’s third annual report as well as reports prepared by the NH DOE using NESSC data can be found at

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Telephone: (603) 271-3494 | TDD Access: Relay NH 711