Information Technology Services

GEMS Data System - Growth and Enhancement of Montana Students

Tuesday, August 28, 2012, 3:15 pm

The GEMS Project team continues to build and implement the OPI’s new K-12 statewide longitudinal data system – GEMS.  In addition to the development work, several members of our project team travelled the state for three weeks this summer and provided end-user training to close to 300 school and district employees.  This first round of training was very well received and many are excited about the potential GEMS and its tools provide when doing data analysis and reporting on K-12 education data. 

The 2nd iteration of GEMS, 'Student Characteristics' is currently undergoing User Acceptance Testing (UAT).  This data domain includes information about student characteristics such as enrollment and also presents programs and course offerings by school including general, career and technical, and special education.  These new data areas will be added to the warehouse during the month of September and will provide the ability to analyze and query data in conjunction with the already existing 'Student Achievement' domain data.  

To view the GEMS public website, go to:

In other data system news, the OPI has been awarded a three-year, $4 million grant to partner with the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE) to link postsecondary data with GEMS.  With this grant, the State will continue to improve student achievement  and provide the ability to identify which programs are effective at improving learning and then be able to see how prepared Montana students are for life after high school.   

Linking the K-12 education data with the data from the Montana University System (MUS) will allow schools to get a complete picture of whether or not students graduating from their high schools are ready for college.  They will be able to analyze which coursework led to successful transitions from high school to higher education as well as which students were not prepared for college to focus in on solutions to help ensure student success. 

Commissioner of Higher Education Clay Christian stated, "In order to better align outcomes and expectations between Montana’s K-12 and higher education systems, it is vital that we develop the data necessary to measure and identify those elements in students’ educational experiences that are driving factors in producing successful students, both in high school and college.  This grant gives us that opportunity." 

"This is exciting news for parents and educators," said Superintendent Denise Juneau.  "Data allows us to focus on accountability, effectiveness and achievement.  Achieving a high school diploma must mean that a student has the preparation necessary to take the next steps in their lives, including being successful in college.  Our continued partnership with higher education is critical to meet the needs of the 21st century workforce and move our state forward."

For more information, contact Jamey Ereth, 444-4409