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Blog Post · April 2, 2024

California’s Cradle-to-Career Data System Hits Major Milestone

photo - Diverse Group of Students Walking on Campus

California’s Cradle to Career (C2C) system aims to shed light on the paths Californians take through the school system and into the workforce by linking individual-level data from a variety of state agencies. This connected data—which has long been siloed in the agencies that collected them—could allow researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to examine and fix critical leaks in California’s education pipeline. The C2C system received its first submission from its data partners in late 2023, adding over 1 billion data points ranging from educational experiences to social services participation and workforce outcomes.

This submission was the first in what is envisioned to be an annual springtime process, where agencies submit updated data from the prior year. Extensive planning—as well as close coordination with representatives from each of the agencies involved—made the current progress possible.

The full list of providers and submitted data elements demonstrates the breadth of this ambitious system. For example, the California Department of Education provides data on early childhood education and K–12 outcomes. The state’s three public postsecondary systems contribute information on college access and success. Workforce and social service participation data come from the Employment Development Department (EDD) and the California Department of Social Services (DSS).

The burgeoning data system is one of the most ambitious in the nation, with transparency and public engagement as key goals. Though valuable for researchers, the system will also provide dashboards for students and families. These tools can be used to guide Californians through educational transitions, helping them plan for college or learn about long-term trajectories—for example, whether particular career paths lead to higher wages.

Cradle to Career administrators have plans to go even further, connecting education data to information on earnings and access to healthcare and social services. This will enable California’s policymakers to respond to challenges through better data-driven decision-making. Indeed, the governor’s office has described the system as critical infrastructure for its broader goal of a new master plan for career education.


Access California data system career education Completion early childhood education Equity Health & Safety Net health care Higher Education K–12 Education safety net Workforce Needs