Silicon Valley Regional Data Trust (SVRDT)
The Silicon Valley Regional Data Trust (SVRDT) is a secure cross-sector data-sharing environment combining administrative records from education, health and human services, and juvenile probation in the tri-county Silicon Valley. It serves dual roles as (1) a data-driven decision making tool for improving service coordination, information flow, and educational outcomes and (2) a research engine for studying student learning in broader contexts, contributing to improved school and life outcomes for youth in the Silicon Valley and the broader field of data science for the public good.
The SVRDT emerged under the leadership of Rod Ogawa (CCREC Governance Council) and from CCREC’s Community-Engaged Computing initiative, which was supported by a National Science Foundation grant. Today, the research lead is Rebecca London, Assistant Professor of Sociology and CCREC affiliate, who is coordinating with faculty and researchers across divisions in support of the work.
Ron Glass works with the SVRDT to ensure that the ethical perspectives of the human beings who are the source of the data are respected and that the powerful research engine created by the SVRDT be directed in ways that respect their ethical and knowledge interests.
Listen to a KZSC interview with Rebecca London about the Silicon Valley Regional Data Trust here.
The SVRDT is a “place-based research alliance” with partners that include the University of California, Santa Cruz; San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz County Offices of Education; the 66 school districts in these three counties; and Juvenile Probation and Health and Human Service Agencies in each of the three counties.Although Silicon Valley houses some of the world’s most successful information technology firms, the region includes many schools with high proportions of low-income students, students of color, and English language learners. Among the more than 410,000 public school students currently served in the tri-county region:
Although Silicon Valley houses some of the world’s most successful information technology firms, the region includes many schools with high proportions of low-income students, students of color, and English language learners. Among the more than 410,000 public school students currently served in the tri-county region:
- 38% receive free or reduced-lunches,
- 41% are Hispanic or Latinx,
- 24% are English Learners,
- 1% (nearly 2,500 students) are in foster care (California Department of Education, 2017)
Significant academic performance gaps in both math and language arts are apparent, predictably with students from low-income and ethnically and linguistically diverse backgrounds lagging far behind more affluent peers, and those from White and Asian families.
Solutions to entrenched educational inequality require new research approaches and more strategic interventions, yet these also raise difficult ethical questions. To truly understand the demographic differentials in educational outcomes, researchers and practitioners need to take into account a broader perspective on students’ experiences in and out of school, particularly bringing into focus the many ways that non-school factors play a role in students’ academic success.
This broader perspective challenges certain ethical and legal consent and privacy protections that keeps information in silos. It also presents technical challenges because the data to which researchers and practitioners have access lacks breadth in three critical ways:
(1) they lack geographic breadth, although students at greatest risk for poor academic performance have the highest transiency rates;
(2) they often lack temporal breadth, drawing from just one or a few years, thus not tracking students longitudinally throughout their K- 12 experiences;
(3) they lack information about non-school factors despite the crucially significant fact that roughly 70 percent of the variance in K-12 student achievement is attributable to such factors, principally the negative impacts of poverty.
The SVRDT data will substantially address all three of these technical limits, and authorization for completion of the legal and technical agreements necessary to build the data system for the inter-county data-sharing has been secured from the state legislature and signed into law by the Governor.
The SVRDT will create an unprecedented opportunity to deepen and extend understanding of key educational issues, to address questions about these issues at the level of whole populations rather than samples of students, and to follow students over time and across sectors.