Tightening Security

Kentucky School Safety Report Calls for Student Identifier

An annual report on student safety in Kentucky schools has recommended adoption of a unique identifier in order to connect disciplinary actions to a particular student and to evaluate the effectiveness of programs targeted at repeat offenders.

The Tenth Annual Safe Schools Data Project, compiled by the Kentucky Center for School Safety and the state's Department of Education, has been collecting data since the 1998-1999 school year. The report provides demographic data showing trends regarding disciplinary actions involving students in Kentucky's public schools. Every public school and school district in Kentucky contributes data.

In 2007 and 2008 the center adopted two changes to its data collection process. First, a focus group of educators, law enforcement, and legal personnel developed a set of codes to capture specific types of activities, such as menacing, wanton endangerment, criminal abuse, and stalking. Second, the reporting was moved from a Software Technology (STI) system to an Infinite Campus system. Although the initial transition to Infinite Campus posed delays in reporting, the center said it expects to expedite reporting in the future.

Despite these enhancements, the center stated in its latest report, "the most important shortcoming in the data collection process that we continue to try to overcome involves the current inability to connect each disciplinary action to a particular student through a unique identifier." School administrators can access data about individuals in their own schools, such as gender, ethnicity, grade, lunch type, special education classification, limited English proficiency, and mobility. But the center bemoaned the lack of access to that same information. "If we had that capability, data analysis could be more thorough and detailed," the report explained. "For example, examination of offender recidivism is currently not possible. This connection could assist schools in evaluating programs targeted to repeat offenders. As [the Kentucky Department of Education ] continues to improve the process, we are hopeful that we will have access to these identifiers in the near future.

The identifier would enable the center to provide historic and trending information about individuals without identifying them by name.

The Kentucky Center for School Safety was created in 1998 when state legislators passed a law requiring all of its public schools to create a school safety plan and to report discipline-related data to the Department of Education.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.