This question was the basis for “Integrating Education, Social Services and Workforce Data: A Collaborative Research Opportunities Conference” at the University of Pennsylvania.
One answer is through integrated data efforts. Integrated data means using information from one sector to track your progress in another. For instance, a state higher education agency might use integrated data to determine whether community college graduates were able to find employment in their chosen field. Figuring this out requires combining information from the higher education and workforce sectors.
The meeting, which included leaders from the education, workforce and employment, and social service sectors, was organized by Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy and the Jacob France Institute. Both of these institutions develop innovative strategies for using data to better understand complex social issues. The event was cosponsored by the US Department of Education’s Privacy Technical Assistance Center, which offers technical assistance and best practices to states on ways to safeguard student privacy when working with education data.
The group expressed a strong belief in the value of using data to strengthen the effectiveness of public services, and participants’ conversation centered on a series of themes:
Integrated data efforts require trust and mutually beneficial partnerships. For instance, partnerships between school districts and universities must balance the need to answer immediate questions while continuing to invest in long-term research projects.
There is a lack of information about what happens to students as they transition from one system to the next. For example, what happens when a student graduates high school and enters college or the workforce.
The success of integrated data efforts is contingent on demonstrating the value of data. New integrated data efforts will require both political and monetary support. Demonstrating the value of integrated data efforts will help make the case to invest in this work.
Over the coming months, a group of meeting participants will develop a series of research questions that get at the intersection of the education, social services, and workforce sectors.
We are continuing the celebration of our annual survey and analysis—Data for Action 2013!
Today we release our fifth and final policy issue fact sheet, addressing empowering parents with education data. Parents are their children’s first teacher and most important advocate for their success in the classroom. Accessible, tailored, and easy-to-understand data can help parents answer questions about their children’s education, like “Is my child on track to graduate college and career ready?” and “How does my child’s school compare to other schools so that I can make the best choice about my child’s education?”
Find out how states are supporting families by providing critical information parents can use to inform the important education decisions they make for their children.