• Overview

    Since 2007, the Ohio Workforce Coalition brings together leaders from education and training institutions, economic and workforce development organizations, business and industry, labor, and human service providers. The Coalition promotes public policies that build the skills of adult workers, meet employer skill needs, and strengthen the workforce system to ensure opportunity and prosperity for Ohio families.
  • September 2010
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FEATURED GUEST POST: How cross-agency, integrated data systems can help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state education and skills development programs

Goal 3 of the Ohio Workforce Coalition’s 2010-2012 Public Policy Platform focuses on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the state’s workforce education and training system.  A critical part of this process includes state data systems.  In this week’s guest post, the Working Poor Families Project discusses the importance of state data management.

A skilled workforce is a key component of a healthy economy. In this era of a changing economy, a mismatch between job requirements and worker skills, and tight fiscal constraints, it is important to assure the state’s education and skills development systems are effectively and efficiently producing that skilled workforce.

Cross-agency, integrated data systems are an essential tool that can increase the success of these programs. State data systems that track student progress across different programs into employment can provide policymakers with the information needed to assure public dollars are being well spent.

In Ohio, 3.3 million adults have no postsecondary education. An additional 1.7 million adults have some postsecondary experience but no degree. Yet half of all projected job openings created between 2006 and 2016 will require a postsecondary credential or degree. Assisting these 5 million adults attain a degree or credential is an important way to support the state’s economic recovery.

Most state education and skills development programs can not track student progress across systems and into the workforce. What systems are we talking about? The postsecondary education, adult education and skills training programs are all part of the workforce system. The community college system is particularly important for lower skilled adults. What students should be tracked? Data is needed on all participants including nontraditional, part-time, remedial, and non-credit career students. Finally linking students’ progress, completions and credentials to labor market outcomes (i.e., employment status and earnings) can help guide and assure program effectiveness.

Strong data analysis can help identify barriers to student success. And it can identify the effectiveness of innovative strategies. Well-designed data systems can answer such questions as:

  • Are low-income, low-skilled adults succeeding with classes and/or graduating with degrees or certificates?
  • Does participation in state education or training programs lead to better employment and earnings?
  • Which students are not succeeding and why?

 

In recent years, the U.S. Department of Education has supported state and local governments in data collection to improve student success. The Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS), which originally focused on K-12, was recently expanded to support data collection from PK-20. This grant program now requires states to include postsecondary and workforce systems in their data collection. States should use their SLDS and other resources to build comprehensive, linked data systems that can answer questions about specific policies and institutional practices, and provide a basis for improving program performance.

To be effective state data systems must be used for setting goals, measuring student progress and tracking student outcomes. These systems create a strong foundation for instituting policy and program improvements that support a higher number of students who transition to and complete postsecondary education. This is an outcome Ohio needs.

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For more on how state data systems can strengthen workforce outcomes see: http://www.workingpoorfamilies.org/pdfs/WPFPpolicybrief-fall09.pdf.

Deborah Povich co-manages the Working Poor Families Project (WPFP), a national initiative that works to improve economic conditions for low skilled adults. The project partners with state nonprofit organizations in 24 states, including Ohio, to support their policy efforts to better prepare America’s working families for a more secure economic future. Making state postsecondary and skills development data systems more effective for low-income, low skilled students is a primary interest of the WPFP.

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