PPIC Logo Independent, objective, nonpartisan research
Blog Post · June 14, 2024

The Cradle-to-Career System Continues to Develop, Adding Partner Agencies and Data

photo - elementary age children working with computers in school

The Cradle-to-Career (C2C) data system—California’s relatively young effort to link data across government agencies in order to improve educational and career outcomes for the state’s residents—has continued to develop in recent months. From hiring new staff and establishing a permanent location in downtown Sacramento to receiving new submissions from its data partners and adding new ones, C2C has made substantial progress. Data system staff are currently designing dashboards on student pathways and teacher training in collaboration with community organizations, with plans to release later this year. C2C’s five-year timeline lays out even more objectives, including linking with workforce records and expanding access to college planning tools for students and families.

C2C received its most recent submission from its data partners in March. Though there was much less fanfare than the milestone first submission last October, this latest addition of data is key because it reflects the regularization of the annual submission process. The May governing board meeting included several major updates. The data system added new information in several areas, including financial aid access, experiences in the teacher training pipeline, and postsecondary outcomes at private and out-of-state colleges. In addition, the Department of Developmental Services, which houses information on services for Californians with developmental disabilities, was added as a data partner. Linkages to data on education, social services, and the workforce could illuminate pathways and outcomes for people who receive these services.

Here at PPIC, we have been closely following C2C and engaging with nearly two dozen organizations—spanning researchers, advocates, and practitioners—with an interest in the system’s development. Through our California Education Data Collaborative (CEDC), we recently met with most of these organizations individually, gaining insights on their aspirations for and concerns about the future of C2C. Many were impressed by C2C’s progress and its commitment to making the data system broadly accessible—through products like data dashboards and practical tools—in addition to providing access to de-identified individual-level data for more technical analyses.

There were also concerns about a range of issues, including access to granular data through the request process, long-term support for the system, given the inevitability of turnover in the legislature and Governor’s Office, and prospects for the utilization—and utility—of the system in the broader community beyond researchers and academics.

C2C’s executive director, Mary Ann Bates, addressed some of these concerns at our CEDC meeting in late May. She noted that the data request process is designed to streamline the often ad hoc nature of typical data agreements between agencies and individual researchers, while also providing additional transparency with annual reviews of approved and denied requests. She also said that C2C is invested in community engagement to ensure that the dashboards and tools are responsive to the needs of the broad public. The meeting also included a discussion of workforce policy and related data, touching on the new master plan for career education and efforts to improve state data on employment outcomes.

The next C2C governing board meeting in August will likely include a number of updates including revisions to the five-year timeline and more detail on when C2C’s first dashboards will be released. As the promise of a statewide longitudinal data system in California draws closer, we here at PPIC remain excited about what we can learn from it and how it might be used to improve public policy.


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