Migrant-tracking plans revealed

Draft request for proposals for Migrant Student Information Exchange program

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Education Department officials have revealed details about their plans to create a national database for tracking migrant workers' children whose school records often are incomplete because their parents move frequently.

The department's Office of Migrant Education, which released a draft request for proposals May 4, will issue a final RFP by about June 20. The draft document describes a national migrant student information exchange network. The No Child Left Behind Act requires federal officials, working with state officials, to create such a network.

Administrators of migrant-worker programs in all 50 states must agree to use 65 common data elements for reporting information about children of migrant workers. Coordinating that effort will be the responsibility of the company that wins the contract to build and operate the electronic records exchange, according to a 45-page description published on the General Services Administration’s FedBizOpps Web site.

Each child of migrant workers would be represented in the system by a consolidated file containing up-to-date information about the schools where the child was enrolled, the courses taken, grades earned, credits accrued and even immunizations received.

Without such a system, delays in transferring records to different schools result in school officials placing children in the wrong grade or giving them the wrong level of course work, duplicating immunizations and improperly recording credits that students need for graduation.

Education officials also say that without a national database and a unique identifier for each child, they cannot get an accurate and unduplicated count of migrant workers’ children on either a state or a national level.

The systems that exist support student record exchanges among states, but the exchanges often contain incomplete and out-of-date information. School records for as many as 800,000 elementary and secondary children of migrant workers, more than half of whom live in California, Florida and Texas, would be accessible to authorized users of the new system.

Education officials say they plan to award a one-year contract with four additional one-year options for the record exchange system. Brad Eldridge, a federal analyst at the market research company Input, said companies with a good track record of installing enterprise resource planning systems, for example, would be potential bidders on such a contract.

Input analysts said the e-records contract might also appeal to companies that have extensive experience working with states on information technology projects. "Every state has programs that deal with the federal government," said Marcus Fedeli, manager of Input’s federal opportunity service. Companies that are used to coordinating IT projects with the states might bid, he said.

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