Gauging Students’ Progress along the Education Pipeline

California has invested billions of dollars to improve its public education systems over the past decade. While some institutions have cited improvements during this period, there is not enough pertinent data to show how students are doing during key transitions along the education pipeline, making it difficult to identify and assess the return on investment through the most effective programs and initiatives.

Currently, California is one of only eight states without a data system to track students’ pathways from K-12, to college and on into the workplace. Such a longitudinal data system would permit California to evaluate education policies and investments and model those that prove most effective.

In response, last year the Legislature passed and awarded $10 million to the California Cradle-to-Career Data System Act, establishing requirements for the development of a statewide data infrastructure that will provide information to help more students attain their educational, career, and life goals. The data system will ensure that educational, workforce, financial aid, and social service information is fully leveraged to address disparities in opportunities and improve outcomes for all students from cradle to career.

Throughout this year, the administration, with support from WestEd, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education research, development and services organization, will lead a process to design the first phase of the California Cradle-to-Career Data System. As specified in legislation, a broad spectrum of stakeholders will serve on a workgroup and several subcommittees. The workgroup will provide recommendations to the Governor’s Office, who in turn will report out to the legislature.  CDT participates as a member of the workgroup and on the Technical, Security and Legal subcommittees.

Once deployed, the system aims to link data that schools, colleges, social service agencies, financial aid providers and employers already collect, making it easier to:

  • Identify the types of supports that help more students learn, stay in school, prepare for college, graduate, and secure a job.
  • Provide information that teachers, parents, advisors, and students can use to identify opportunities and make decisions.
  • Help agencies plan for and improve educational, workforce, and health and human services programs.
  • Support research on improving policies from birth through career.

California’s statewide Cradle-to-Career Data System will promote data privacy and security and provide an integrated means to identify, evaluate and promote educational policies and programs that will improve the educational outcomes for all California students.