Research

​​State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) Frequently Asked Questions 

​The SLDS is a longitudinal data system, meaning it links data about students as they move through school and the workforce. Technology enables the system to provide these linkages without revealing the identity of any students.

With the SLDS, for the first time, researchers can connect student data from K-12 to higher education to the workforce. The SLDS partners with state agencies that collect student data and acts as a central hub where the data can be linked and analyzed.

The purpose of the SLDS is to improve student learning. Longitudinal data allows policy makers to clearly identify outcomes of programs across student populations and geographic regions. This helps the state pinpoint and address areas of inequities so it can better direct resources and funding to programs that are helping students succeed.​

​​The SLDS currently has data from the following agencies:

  • Department of Education
  • Higher Education Coordinating Commission
  • Employment Department

Future phases of the system will include data from additional agencies, such as the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, the Department of Human Services, the Oregon Health Authority, and the Department of Corrections. This expanded data will provide a more holistic view of the student experience.

The privacy of Oregon students is a top priority for the SLDS. The data in the SLDS is assembled, maintained, used and disseminated in a way that ensures confidentiality and security and meets the requirements of the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, known as FERPA. All users of the system must complete training regarding data security and sign a user confidentiality agreement.

The SLDS does not collect any data from Oregon citizens, and it does not hold any personal identifying information. When data comes into the SLDS from other agencies, the system uses two main tools to ensure student privacy is maintained:

  • De-identification. When a student record enters the SLDS, it goes through an encryption process. The identifying information for the student is removed, and it is replaced with a randomly generated number. This allows the system to link students’ information over time without identifying the students.

  • Suppression. The SLDS applies suppression rules, which mask small numbers or percentages of students to ensure no student is able to be identified. For example, if a SLDS query generates only 4 students at a particular school, that number is suppressed, or hidden, to ensure no one is able to identify those students. The SLDS uses the same suppression rules as the agency that is the source of the data, and when the data comes from multiple agencies, the system uses the most restrictive rules.​

​Now that the SLDS is operational, researchers at the Oregon’s education agencies are beginning to use the system. Researchers will use the SLDS to conduct longitudinal studies to help the state prioritize and evaluate its investments in education. External partners interested in using the system must submit a data request application, which will be evaluated by the SLDS Governance Committee to ensure the research proposed will help meet the state’s education goals.​
​The SLDS is a complex tool designed for researchers. Because the system is longitudinal, it is not meant to provide specific data points. Rather, researchers can use the SLDS to look at trend information, specifically how policies and other factors affect student outcomes. The SLDS team is working with the research community to develop reports and data dashboards that will be available to the public online. ​
The SLDS has four governance committees that set policy and direction, ensure privacy and security, and oversee ethical use of the data. These four committees are: Executive Committee and  Data, Research and Privacy Subcommittees. Each committee has voting members from data partner agencies and non-voting participants from the SLDS technical and research teams. For more details on each committee, see the
The SLDS complies with all state and federal privacy laws, notably the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Data in the SLDS is kept in a highly secure state data center with limited access and special data security protocol. In addition, researchers interfacing with the system undergo special training in the use of the system, best practices on data handling, and a course on ethical data use. Users in the system are carefully tracked and any research done is overseen by agency Research Directors and SLDS staff. For more information on SLDS security, see the SLDS Security Plan.
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