California Cradle-to-Career Data System
Legislation passed in 2019 called for the establishment of a statewide, longitudinal data system for California. The proposed Cradle-to-Career Data System aims to link existing education, workforce, financial aid, and social service information to better equip policymakers, educators, and the public to address disparities in opportunities and improve outcomes for all students throughout the state.
Why Does California Need the Cradle-To-Career Data System?By securely connecting data that schools, colleges, social service agencies, financial aid providers, and employers already collect, it will be 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, advisors, parents, and students can use to identify opportunities and make decisions
- Help agencies plan for and improve educational, workforce, and social services programs
- Support research on improving policies from birth through career
To learn more, download a two-page summary of the value of the Cradle-to-Career Data System for Californians, view testimonials about the proposed tools for students and high schools, and see the research information that would be available.
How Would the Data System Be Structured?The proposed Cradle-to-Career Data System includes three core components:
- Tools for policy makers, researchers, educators, and advocates, including dashboards, a query builder, summaries of key student and employment outcomes, and a research library. These tools would be accessible to the general public and provide actionable information on education, social services, employment patterns, and equity gaps in opportunities and outcomes. Researchers could request access to restricted data for authorized purposes.
- Tools for students and the educators who support them, including college and career planning, college-eligibility monitoring, electronic transcripts, college applications, and access to financial aid and other services such as medical care and food.
- Tools to support data use including outreach, professional development, and clear feedback loops with intended users, designed to build the capacity of policymakers, educators, parents, and students to make better-informed decisions.
Types of Information: Initially, the data system would link existing K–12, public postsecondary, employment, financial aid, and teacher credentialing data. Within the first five years of development, additional information on early learning and care, private and independent colleges, workforce training programs, and social services would be added.
Privacy: The data system would be designed with privacy and security as the top priority. Detailed technical requirements have been developed that align with the most stringent federal and state policies. Individuals would be able to opt out of the linked data set.
Governance: The data system would be governed by a board made up of representatives of data providers and stakeholders who use the information. The governing board would set the strategic direction and ensure that the system is supporting the state’s goals. Two advisory boards would support the governing board, one to ensure that the system includes actionable data and the other to ensure that the intended audiences are aware of the data system and know how to use the information it provides.
Management: The data system would be incubated as a new office within the Government Operations Agency (GovOps). GovOps would serve as a neutral entity, focused on providing reliable information to support decision-making and advance equitable outcomes.
Leveraging Existing Investments: Rather than design the data system from scratch, broadly available technology tools will be used to store, link, and display data. Tools for students and educators would be provided by expanding access to existing state-funded projects like CaliforniaColleges.edu and eTranscript California.
How Were the Recommendations Developed?
Over the course of 2020 and the first half of 2021 more than 200 people from 15 state agencies and many educational institutions, research and policy organizations, and community groups worked together to design a blueprint for the California Cradle-to-Career Data System.
The extensive planning process, which was facilitated by WestEd, included multiple subcommittees that considered various aspects of data system development including, technology and security, legal frameworks, data definitions, and community engagement. A workgroup composed of entities that will provide information and state agencies with expertise in data considered the findings of these subcommittees and advice from two advisory groups made up of community members.
What Happens Next?
The workgroup reports are now under consideration by the legislature. The recommended approach was reflected in the Governor’s 2021-22 budget request and trailer bill language. In addition, AB 99 (Irwin) proposes a similar approach for implementing the data system. The remaining planning tasks include finalizing the community engagement strategy and the legal agreements for data sharing.