California has committed to building a statewide data system that connects existing educational, social service, and workforce data sources. The 2021–22 budget includes funding for the creation of the system. This first step holds much promise for improving education in California, but sustained public and financial support will be key to the success of the system.
The current plan for the system includes more than 150 data points from 11 sources, including some pre-K programs, K–12 education, postsecondary education, and the Employment Development Department, as well as financial aid and apprenticeship programs. This ambitious scope would make California’s educational data system one of the most connected in the nation.
The data system would be available for institutional and public use through dashboards, analytical tools, and researcher requests for data. Connecting existing data can create a shared knowledge base about California’s education-to-workforce pipeline, which could help the state in several areas:
- Advancing equitable educational opportunities and outcomes
- Lowering barriers to success for students and families by streamlining the use of student data
- Setting and tracking progress toward statewide goals, such as the governor’s proposed 70% college attainment rate
- Monitoring the immediate and long-term effects of disruptions such as the pandemic
- Helping institutions and researchers identify successful programs and policies
- Facilitating cooperation and coordination among institutions through the use of connected data
As the state begins the implementation phase, ongoing public support and sustained investment are essential. The data system will need recurring state funding for full implementation (which is expected to take five years) and maintenance of the system beyond that.
In the long term, the system’s success will depend on outreach and education. Students, parents, educators, policymakers, and researchers are much more likely to use and support a quality data system if they can access the connected data and understand what it can help them do.