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Vertical vs. Longitudinal Reporting February 25, 2009

Posted by ajackl in Educational Technology, Enterprise Architecture.
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Someone asked me a basic question which, at first, I thought was obvious and then upon asking around discovered was not so obvious.     In the State enterprise system conversation what is the difference between “vertical reporting” and “longitudinal reporting”?

The answer is simple and complex:  time and space.

First, space: “vertical reporting” refers to the movement of data between organizations at different levels of hierarchy in their area.  For instance, many schools belong to a district, many districts belong to a regional service center, and many regional service centers belong to a state (some states skip the regionals).  Vertical reporting is the movement of data up that chain of organizations:  school data go UP to district which transmits them UP to the state.  Sometimes people will talk about “vertical interoperability” which means data can go both ways.

Second, time: “Longitudinal reporting” refers to the reporting, acquisition, and dispaly of data that have a time element to them.  It is often represented by graphs.  For instsance the change in enrollment over the last ten years would be an example of longitudinal reporting. Longitudinal reporting is the reporting of data with a time element attached and used as a dimension.

When people refer to longitudinal data systems (as in LDS Grants) they are referring to systems that almost always have a vertical and a longitudinal component to them.



1. Eric Hall - February 25, 2009

Thanks for this Alex. Since I may be the “someone” who posed the question, I appreciate that you are able to step back and see the possible confusion one might have over this. What was confusing to me is that vertical is to horizontal as is longitudinal is to latitudinal. My assumption was that vertical and longitudinal were used interchangeably.

2. Lara - February 25, 2009

Very good breakdown. I think the confusion lies in the term reporting. It is an ambiguous term that can mean data movement as well as data display.

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