Maine will get a $7.3 million boost from the federal government as the state Department of Education works on a data system that tracks students’ progress as they graduate high school, enroll in college and begin working.

Maine is one of 20 states to share in a $250 million pot of federal funds aimed at helping states more aggressively collect data about students’ academic performance.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the awards on Friday. Other award winners include Florida, which won $10 million; Massachusetts, which won $13 million; Ohio, which won $5.1 million; and Texas, which claimed an $18.2 million award.

The award money comes from the federal economic stimulus act.

The Obama administration has made aggressive data collection about schools one of a handful of education reform priorities. Data systems are intended to help education officials evaluate the effectiveness of academic programs and specific teachers.

Data “tells us where we are, where we need to go and who is at risk,” Duncan said Friday in a conference call with reporters. “Good data helps us expose the good, the bad and the ugly about our education systems.”

Work on Maine’s longitudinal data system began in 2007, when the state received a $3.2 million grant from the federal government, said Bill Hurwitch, project director for Maine’s data system.

The $7.3 million award will help the data system expand to include information from early childhood and adult education programs, the University of Maine System and the Department of Labor.

“This allows us to now build out from what was a K-through-12 system, into an early-childhood-through-workforce system,” Hurwitch said.

Maine initially requested $9.5 million to continue its data system work. In the fall, the state’s schools — amid objections from the Maine Civil Liberties Union and other privacy advocates — will begin collecting students’ Social Security numbers as a method for tracking their progress.

Matthew Stone • [email protected]

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