Illinois Longitudinal Data System – An Introduction

The Illinois Longitudinal Data System (ILDS) was formed in 2013 as a collaborative body to facilitate the linkage of records across state agencies over time.  The objective was to more efficiently analyze data and program impacts across data systems to improve education, human services, and workforce outcomes.  By linking these records, research involving various data sources across multiple agencies could increase program efficiency and effectiveness.

To oversee record linkage, the ILDS selected Northern Illinois University (NIU) as the Centralized Demographic Dataset Administrator (CDDA) in 2015.  The ILDS pursued a federated model for the data system that allows each agency to maintain its own data and policies regarding use of that data, while allowing the CDDA to use data from the state agencies to match records and maintain a Master Client Index (MCI).  Contained in the MCI are a select number of fields and the CDDA-IDs, which provide the basis for supporting research involving records from across several state agencies.

Progress towards providing the CDDA-IDs for school districts and post-secondary institutions is being made.  As these IDs become more accessible for districts and institutions, there are increasing opportunities to conduct research using data from multiple state agencies.  Additionally, the IDs can support improved data sharing and research at the local level between school districts and postsecondary institutions.  To learn more about the potential of using CDDA-IDs for your district’s or institution’s research interests, please contact William Holderfield of Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies at wholderfield1@niu.edu.

May 2020

P-20 Network Virtual Spring Meeting

Our Spring 2020 P-20 Network Meeting was originally scheduled for April 23, 2020, at NIU Naperville. Due to the shelter-in-place order in Illinois as a result of COVID-19, the Spring P-20 Network Meeting has been moved to an asynchronous virtual event. While this format unfortunately requires us to miss out on the face-to-face discussions that are such a critical part of the P-20 Network, we are excited to share a number of the previously planned presentations as videos that can be viewed across the P-20 Network and beyond.

Each of the presentations below links to a video on the P-20 Network YouTube Channel.

Transitional English – More info coming soon!
In the coming weeks, we also look forward to hosting a webinar about proposed competencies for Transitional English that have been developed by a group composed of stakeholders from across school districts, postsecondary institutions, and state agencies throughout Illinois.

Meeting Evaluation
After watching the videos, please take a few minutes to provide feedback using this short form on your P-20 Network experience as well as on the needs of your organization moving forward.

NIU P-20 Research & Data Collaborative
From statewide research projects to working with districts of all sizes on their research and data needs, the NIU P-20 Research & Data Collaborative is excited to offer a wide range of services and partnerships to advance knowledge and practice. Learn more about the NIU P-20 Research & Data Collaborative, and contact us for more information about specific projects.

For more information and to be part of the conversation of the P-20 Network:

Fall 2020 P-20 Network Meeting
Finally, plan now to attend the Fall 2020 P-20 Network Meeting on Thursday, October 1, 2020, at the Barsema Alumni & Visitors Center on-campus at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

April 2020

P-20 Research & Data Collaborative – Ready to help your organization with research and data

The P-20 Network is a proud partner with key departments and academic units at Northern Illinois University in the NIU P-20 Research & Data Collaborative.

The NIU P-20 Research & Data Collaborative empowers your progress with data and research initiatives within your organizations that are crucial to making informed decisions in this critical time. Whether generating, understanding, managing or engaging with data and research, the Collaborative has project experience and staff with that expertise. Our current data and research portfolio includes projects with:

  • local school districts
  • local government agencies
  • statewide policy
  • workforce development
  • early childhood programming

Please reach out to the P-20 Research & Data Collaborative or the P-20 Network to see how we can support your organization with meeting specific data and research needs.

  • Alan Clemens, Director of Illinois Interactive Report Cards at Northern Illinois University
  • Jason Klein, Director of P-20 Initiatives
April 2020

Learning at Home – Tips for Video Meetings

We’re collecting questions about Learning at Home from teachers at all levels, and we’ll be working with experts to help get these questions answered. If you have questions, please provide them here.


Collaboration in education, whether between or among students or educators, remains primarily face-to-face. While other professions and companies use video meetings as a frequent, and often daily, part of their work lives, most meetings in schools, school districts, community colleges, and universities have remained face-to-face. COVID-19 is now requiring a high degree of use of video meetings among educators and between educators and students.

Today’s video meeting tools tend to use less bandwidth, produce higher quality video and audio, include screensharing options, and work across devices and platforms. Nevertheless, the following tips will help educators get started.

Picking a solution

  • When doing #elearning or #distancelearning with students, use video chat cautiously. Ensuring that students’ wireless networks and Internet connections can handle the bandwidth of video chat is not to be underestimated. This is particularly true for students in an elementary or secondary setting, or in a situation like COVID-19 when everyone will more-or-less be working from home rather than being able to take advantage of a robust network at school or the public library.
  • Use your institution’s supported video chat solution – If your organization uses Google’s G Suite, it may be Hangouts Meet, and if your organization uses Microsoft’s Office 365, it may be Teams. Alternatively, it could be a video meeting solution, such as Zoom or GoToMeeting or Adobe Connect. For educational institutions, it may be the video component of a Learning Management System, such as Blackboard or Canvas.
  • Be sure to test if this preferred solution allows you to collaborate with others with email addresses from other organizations. Some solutions may be set-up to only allow users from your own institution connect with the video chat solution due to security settings. This may or may not be an issue depending on your use-case. For example, if a superintendent or assistant superintendent who wants to meet across school districts, it is necessary that all of those different individuals can access the video meeting despite having user accounts/email addresses from different organizations. Questions about this should be addressed as soon as possible with the organization’s Information Technology staff to allow them the time to offer a workable solution that still meets the organization’s online security requirements.
  • If your institution has more than one supported solution, just pick one and use it consistently (or, at least, use the same one consistently with the same audience). For example, you might always use one solution for meetings with colleagues, and there may be a different solution that you always use with students. That’s okay, but try to keep those consistent within each group.

Dress rehearsal & orientation

Video Chat TestingWith any of the online meeting options, making sure that one’s microphone and webcam are working are usually the biggest trick. Unfortunately, everyone participating will need to go through and make sure that their own microphones and webcams are working. As the host, prepare ahead of time. Do a test meeting (or two or three) to ensure that the camera and mic are working and that you know how to create the event. You can do this with a friend or colleague or even by yourself with another email address.

Assume that your first meeting with each group will be spent troubleshooting these kind of issues with participants.

Your “studio”

Google Hangout StudioAt tech companies, there are often special rooms set aside for conducting video meetings. Most educational institutions are not so lucky, and even fewer educators have a location at home that is already prepared for video meetings and classes. Do a pick location that is quiet from which you can consistently lead and participate in video chat meetings and classes. Make sure that there is more light shining on your face than there is behind you–For example, avoid sitting in front of a window as the backlighting will make you simply appear as a shadowy figure, and those in the video chat session with you will not be able to see your facial expressions (which is part of the point of a video meeting).

Use wired headphones with a built-in microphone for the best audio quality. A pair of headphones from an older smartphone works great. This simple, inexpensive step makes a huge difference! 

Features to use and practice with the group

Once you have do have everyone in a meeting together with functioning microphones and webcams, take some time to walk people through the features you will be using. These might include:

  • Using a chat box or virtually raising a hand to talk or ask a question
  • Muting and un-muting one’s microphone
  • Sharing one’s screen and handing off control of the presentation to different people in the group

Of course, if you are recording the meeting, please be clear with all participants that you are doing so!

March 2020

Learning at Home – Using Twitter to learn more

We’re collecting questions about Learning at Home from teachers at all levels, and we’ll be working with experts to help get these questions answered. If you have questions, please provide them here.


On Friday afternoon, March 13, 2020, Governor Pritzker announced that all Illinois schools would be closing for a week and a half at a minimum. In advance of that, over 100 of Illinois’ approximately 850 school districts had already announced closures. (See this website from the Illinois State Board of Education for more information – Scroll down to view their dashboard.) Some of these closures have been announced into mid-April. This same pattern is taking place throughout the United States and across the globe.

Follow #KeepLearning #LearningAtHome #elearning & #ILEdChat on Twitter

With the unprecedented move to Learning at Home in the face of COVID-19, resources and ideas are being widely shared, most notably on Twitter. As was shared in our previous post, encouraging teachers to actively engage with a PLN through Twitter can generally result in positive innovation and sharing, but such engagement is incredibly critical at this time–and will continue to be beneficial after we have completed the quarantine period. Even if you are an educator who is not on Twitter, clicking on the links for each of the following Twitter hashtags (a way of labeling and organizing content on Twitter) will allow you to scroll directly through the questions, answers, and resources being shared.

#KeepLearning

#LearningAtHome

#elearning

#ILEdChat

#ILSchoolsStepUp

Twitter hashtag header

Once you are in the hashtag search (which you can also access on your own by using Twitter’s search bar and simply typing in the hashtag), you will see a number of tabs near the top of the page:

  • Top
  • Latest
  • People
  • Photos
  • Videos

Of these, the two most useful are, as you would expect, Top and Latest. Top tab will show you the posts garnering the highest level of engagement on Twitter, which is defined as a mix of replies, retweets, and likes. The Latest tab will show you the most recent posts in chronological order. In either case, start reading at the top of the tab and scroll down as you read. Clicking on links as you read will allow you to access that information, and the links will conveniently open in new tabs in your web browser, so you don’t lose your place.

By the time you have scrolled through a portion of the list, there will likely be new tweets to view at the top.

Follow the Illinois Digital Educators Alliance Twitter account – @ideaillinois

IDEA Illinois is one of the leading chapters of ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) in the world, and as expected, they are taking a leadership role in providing resources regarding E-Learning to educators at all levels. If you have a Twitter account, you can follow @ideaillinois, by typing @ideaillinois in the search bar, and then clicking the “Follow” button. Even if you do not have a Twitter account, you can click here to follow @ideaillinois.

IDEA E-Learning Resources

IDEA Illinois is tweeting thoughtful questions and resources throughout the day each day and using the hashtags #elearning and #ILEdChat. Additionally, they are providing advice and gathering curated resources on this page on the IDEA Illinois website. (This page is being updated regularly, so keep checking it.)

Ask questions and share

Even if you are new on Twitter and even if you have very few followers, don’t be afraid to ask questions and share resources that you and your team have found or created. If you use the hashtags listed here (by simply typing them in with the # at the start and all one word–exactly as they are written in this post), you’ll likely get responses even with very followers.

Additionally, as you find others who are tweeting helpful information, click on their Twitter handle to go to their account click the “Follow” button to start to build up individuals and organizations that you are following directly.

March 2020