Evaluates 47 states’ data systems using the Workforce Data Quality Campaign’s thirteen-point State Blueprint, developed by experts across the education and workforce spectrum to help promote multi-state cooperation to improve state data and provide policymakers and other stakeholders with information to better align education with employer needs.

“Better data helps ensure that our nation’s education and workforce policies collectively prepare all workers to participate in the skilled workforce. Workforce Data Quality Campaign’s (WDQC) thirteen-point State Blueprint identifies key features of an aligned, inclusive, and market-relevant state data system. Such a data system can provide useful information to policymakers, students, workers, business leaders, and educators, ultimately aligning education with employer needs and enabling U.S. industries to compete in a changing economy. The Blueprint was developed by a broad coalition of national organizations, state leaders, and technical experts across the education and workforce spectrum.

For the second year in a row, WDQC has surveyed all fifty states and the District of Columbia in order to gauge state progress against the Blueprint. This report contains details about each state’s level of progress, comparisons to last year’s results, and examples of how states are implementing Blueprint elements. It is intended to promote multi-state cooperation, whereby states share promising practices, challenges, and lessons learned while building, expanding, and utilizing their data systems” (p.4).

The WDQC State Blueprint assesses state data systems on the extent to which they:

·         include all students and pathways;

·         count industry-recognized credentials;

·         assess employment outcomes;

·         expand use of labor market information; and  

·         ensure data access and appropriate use (p.5).

To assess state data, “WDQC distributed online surveys …. to state officials holding positions at a variety of entities involved with state data systems, including state education and workforce agencies, state commerce departments, higher education institutions, and non-profits…. Officials from forty-seven states, plus the District of Columbia completed the survey…. Respondents ranked themselves on a three-point scale, intended to illustrate their progress on each element of the Blueprint.” (p.6). The levels of the scale were minimal progress, in progress, and achieved.

“WDQC made an effort to validate each state’s response by reviewing publicly available documentation and having follow-up conversations with selected states…. WDQC analyzed national progress toward each element by tallying the number of states who responded with a particular rating for each element…” (p.6).

 (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The report shares the following key findings: “States have achieved the most success creating inclusive cross-agency councils, improving [labor market information] LMI data collection, analysis, and distribution, as well as determining whether graduates get jobs. • Forty-three states report taking steps toward building cross-agency councils to oversee statewide data collection and reporting. Twenty-eight of those states report that they have “Achieved” an inclusive cross-agency council, typically including representatives from labor, K-12, higher education, and [career and technical education] CTE. Like last year, this is the most “Achieved” element of the Blueprint. • Forty-three states report making progress toward improving LMI data collection, analysis, and distribution. Many of those states make LMI available to the public online, in publications, or in presentations. • Thirty-nine states report progress toward determining employment and earnings outcomes for graduates. Of those respondents, twenty-two “Achieved” this measure. Respondents were most likely to determine employment and earnings outcomes for 2 and 4-year public colleges, postsecondary career and technical education programs, and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I programs. • Survey results reveal that states face the same challenges as last year. States have an opportunity to improve upon two particular elements: Industry Validation and Capture Diverse Credentials. Twenty-four states report “Minimal Progress” toward developing processes for industry to affirm that awarded credentials are providing recipients the skills necessary to succeed in the workforce. Eighteen states report “Minimal Progress” toward including a variety of credentials, including certifications and licenses, within their state data systems. Only three states report having “Achieved” each of these elements” (p.7). Additionally, “Survey responses revealed a variety of promising practices for implementing Blueprint elements” (p.10). For instance, “New Jersey recently signed data sharing agreements to allow the state’s workforce longitudinal data system, which includes Unemployment Insurance wage records, to link with K-12 records to more deeply assess multiple pathways into postsecondary education and careers” (p.10). The report also presents survey results for each state. (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)