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WDQC applauds new MD law to measure non-degree credential attainment

On May 15, 2018, Maryland’s governor Larry Hogan signed the Career Preparation Expansion Act, which will help Maryland measure non-degree credential attainment and narrow the middle-skills gap by requiring certain entities to provide the state with data about licenses, industry certifications, and certificates. WDQC advocates for states to count non-degree credentials and provided assistance on the legislation.

The Career Preparation Expansion Act requires the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) to collect (1) licensing data from the Department of Health and Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation; (2) certificate data from postsecondary institutions; and (3) certification data from any industry certifier that receives state funding. It also requires MHEC to share this data with the Maryland Longitudinal Data System (MLDS) so that MLDS may link that information with workforce data in order to determine outcomes, such as the rate of employment.

As outlined in WDQC’s recent 50-state scan “Measuring Non-Degree Credential Attainment,” many states are still working towards collecting data on certificates from non-credit programs, licenses, and industry certifications. This data is essential for helping the state understand how many of its residents are obtaining a postsecondary credential and how to narrow the state’s middle skills gap. The National Skills Coalition estimates that between 2014-2024 forty-two percent of jobs in Maryland will be middle skill jobs, which require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree. This information, particularly once matched with employment information, can help the state formulate better policy that can narrow the skills gap and create a thriving economy.

To our knowledge, the Career Preparation Expansion Act is one of the first bills in the country to require data collection from industry certifiers and may provide an example of how other states can begin to collect more information about industry certifiers.

WDQC worked with Maryland legislators to develop this bill, and Senior Policy Analyst Jenna Leventoff provided written testimony in support.  National Skills Coalition member, Jobs Opportunity Task Force, supported the bill as well. If you are interested in collecting better data about non-degree credentials in your state, we encourage you to contact WDQC

Posted In: Maryland, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
WDQC scan reveals that states are making progress in measuring non-degree credential attainment

A new 50-state scan from WDQC, “Measuring Non-Degree Credential Attainment", shows that states are making progress collecting data about non-degree credential attainment, including certificates, industry certifications, and licenses. Realizing that non-degree credentials can lead to strong employment outcomes, many states now have education attainment goals that include non-degree credentials of value. The case studies in this scan can help states measure progress toward these goals.  

In order to measure progress on educational attainment, states need data about non-degree credential attainment. Although states may have data about credential attainment from national surveys, WDQC’s scan asked states if they had data from administrative records, which result from the administration of a program and are more accurate than surveys. Administrative data can enable states to know which groups of people are attaining each type of credential, and where progress is needed. 

Overall, states are the most likely to have data about certificates from public for-credit programs, registered apprenticeship certificates, and licenses. States are the least likely to collect data on non-registered apprenticeship certificates and industry certifications.

States also reported which non-degree credentials data they incorporate into their longitudinal data systems. Longitudinal data systems match information from different programs and agencies across time, which can enable states to understand the education and employment outcomes of these credentials. States are the most likely to incorporate data about for-credit certificates into their longitudinal data systems, and the least likely to incorporate data about non-credit certificates into their longitudinal data systems.

The majority of states are able to break down data about non-degree credential attainment by certain key demographics. This can help states better understand the attainment rates of these groups. States are the most likely to disaggregate attainment results by gender, a student’s highest level of educational attainment, and veteran status. 

Finally, the scan shows that states are considering the quality of credentials. Thirty states are developing a list of “credentials of value.” These lists can help states identify quality credentials in order to administer financial aid, workforce development, or other programs.

In addition to work already being done, states can take steps to collect better administrative data about non-degree credentials. The scan contains examples of states that are already collecting certain types of non-degree credentials data. For example, Missouri has created a process to gather data about certificates awarded after the completion of a non-credit program, Tennessee has gathered data about students who take industry certification exams, and Washington state has a law which requires for-profit institutions to submit data to the state.

WDQC encourages state officials to use this scan to gauge their state’s progress in collecting data on non-degree credentials and to learn how to collect this data from other states who have done so successfully. State staff interested in collecting more data about non-degree credentials in their states should also reach out to WDQC, as we may be able to provide technical assistance.


Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign
Workforce Data Quality Campaign invited to OECD in Paris

On April 5 and 6 in Paris, France, WDQC Director Bryan Wilson participated in an “Expert Workshop on Strengthening the Governance of Skills Systems,” held by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  OECD is an international organization consisting of 35-member countries.  OECD asked Bryan to speak on “integrated information systems for skills,” and fully supported his participation.

OECD’s mission is, “to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.” OECD conducts research, develops policy recommendations, and sometimes facilitates agreements between governments. One of OECD’s four areas of focus is skills, ensuring that, “people of all ages can develop the skills to work productively and satisfyingly in the jobs of tomorrow.”

The OECD Center for Skills has worked recently to advance skill strategies in more than ten countries. Through this experience, the Center has learned how nations struggle to develop a systemic approach to skill policies. Four main challenges are: poor coordination among government agencies and levels of government, lack of collaboration with stakeholders, inefficient financing mechanisms, and lack of effective data and information systems. OECD is now proceeding to identify good policy practices to address these four challenges.

The purpose of the Expert Workshop was to provide feedback to OECD regarding their draft document outlining good policy practices in these four “dimensions”.  Being aware of WDQC’s work, they invited Bryan to speak as one of two external experts on good practices around workforce data and information systems. In all, the meeting was attended by 10 external experts, 22 OECD staff, and a representative of the European Commission. 

Many of the draft document’s points about workforce data and information systems would be familiar to an American audience: the need for accessible data for decision-making, the usefulness of longitudinal information systems, the need for cross-program data and data that crosses levels of government, and information on skill supply and demand.  The document suggested that mechanisms to support information systems include: bodies for coordinating workforce information across agencies, results-based management and accountability, and regular evaluations and transparent reporting of results.

In his comments at the Workshop, Bryan appreciated that OECD included integrated workforce data and information systems as one of four “dimensions” to systemic skills policies. He offered some suggestions for additions to the draft document.

Information systems should enable better decision-making among three primary sets of actors: policymakers, institutions or providers, and consumers.  As briefly mentioned in the document, to create integrated information systems, governments should establish longitudinal data systems that collect administrative records on program participants, administrative records on employment and earnings, link the records together, and are capable of aggregating information on individuals over time. A robust system must be based on individual unit data.

Governments should establish data tools that take data from longitudinal information systems and present the information in ways that are actionable by policymakers, institutions, and consumers. There should be dashboards designed for policymakers that show the key characteristics (such as costs and participant demographics) and educational and labor market outcomes of programs, using consistent methods and metrics to make the results easier to understand and to facilitate coordination across programs.

There should be transparent reports for consumers that show key characteristics and outcomes of programs of study at local institutions or providers, again, using consistent methods and metrics so that information is comparable, and consumers can make more informed decisions. There should be institutional feedback reports that similarly provide information on characteristics and outcomes of institutions and their programs of study, so that they may make more informed decisions about program improvement. Finally, there should be supply and demand reports that compare the number of newly trained workers per year to the number of job openings per year by field of study and level of education or training.

To implement these things require addressing certain challenges (a somewhat different list than in the draft document):

  • Creating administrative record-based information systems that are inclusive of all types of providers of skills training and the different types of credentials they produce, and comprehensive records of employment and earnings;  
  • The use of consistent metrics, horizontally and vertically across programs;
  • Getting policy-makers to use the information to inform their investments in skills training and other decisions; and
  • Wide and effective dissemination of consumer information.

As OECD’s project continues, Bryan offered to connect OECD staff to examples of good practices from American states.

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign
New MI Law Allows Community Colleges to Receive UI Data

In March 2018, Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder signed MI HB 4545. This bi-partisan bill enables Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) to make unemployment insurance information available to community colleges and Michigan Works! Agencies.

Under previous Michigan law, only four-year colleges and universities could receive data from UIA, and they could only use that data for public-service research projects. MI HB 4545 expands the entities who are eligible to receive unemployment insurance information to include Michigan Works! Agencies and community colleges. The bill also expands the ways these entities can use the data. Now, eligible entities may receive and use data for program planning and evaluation, grant application or evaluation, accreditation, economic or workforce research, award eligibility, or state or federal mandated reporting. The bill also requires UIA to make information about what types of data it can share available online, and to help eligible institutions apply to receive data.

A companion bill, HB 4546, holds anyone involved with an eligible entity liable for misusing unemployment insurance information. Offenders would be guilty of a misdemeanor.

“This bill will simplify the process for community colleges and Michigan Works! vocational programs. These bills are an opportunity for us to make Michigan stronger and make better employment opportunities available to our residents,” said Michigan state representative Gary Howell.

According to stakeholders, both bills were introduced and passed in large part because of advocacy from the state’s community colleges. Michigan’s community colleges have long advocated for better access to unemployment insurance wage records in order to improve programs and better meet employer demand. In 2016, the community colleges helped develop HB 5763, which would have provided community colleges and Michigan Works! Agencies with access to unemployment insurance information. WDQC submitted written testimony in support of that effort. HB 4545 is substantially similar to HB 5763, representing a victory for the community college and workforce systems after years of hard work.

HB 4545 will take effect on July 1, 2018.

Posted In: Michigan, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

CT Bill Codifies SLDS and Standardizes Intake Forms

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
CT Bill Codifies SLDS and Standardizes Intake Forms

Connecticut recently enacted HB 5590, which, in relevant part, codifies the state’s existing longitudinal data system and creates a universal intake form for persons seeking assistance at American Job Centers or Workforce Development Board facilities.

The bill helps promote the sustainability of cross-agency data sharing in Connecticut by formally establishing the state’s existing longitudinal data system, P20 WIN, to link data from participating agencies for audit and evaluation purposes. The bill also codifies the system’s existing executive board, which oversees the system, and adds two members to the board: the Commissioner of Early Childhood, and the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management. These new members are expected to provide data on early childhood programs, and ensure that the system coordinates with other state initiatives.

Furthermore, this bill requires the state’s Labor Commissioner to develop a universal intake form for persons entering American Job Centers or Workforce Development Board facilities. The Commissioner must then use the information from the standardized intake forms for an annual report to the General Assembly, including: the number of people using American Job Center or Workforce Development Board services; the employment rates and average wages of persons who utilized those services; the number of people in various pathways; and the industry sectors in which completers find employment. By standardizing its intake forms, Connecticut will be better able to compare programs and assess how its workforce system is narrowing the middle skills gap.

These bills provisions were effective on July 11, 2017, the day the bill was passed.

WDQC applauds Connecticut’s efforts to improve workforce data, and learn more about the effectiveness of its workforce training and education programs. 

Posted In: Connecticut, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Utah Bill Bolsters Workforce Data

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
Utah Bill Bolsters Workforce Data

New legislation, UT SB 194, replaces Utah’s longitudinal data system, the Utah Data Alliance (UDA) with the Utah Data Research Center (UDRC). In doing so, this bill changes the system’s governance model, builds the state’s research capacity, institutionalizes inter-agency data sharing, and promotes data use.

SB 194 creates the Utah Data Research Center (UDRC) as a program within the Department of Workforce Services. Although Utah has long been a model for data governance, this bill shifts governance to a method that the Utah legislature believes will better suit its goals of unified decision making. The UDA was governed by a cross-agency council composed of individuals representing each agency contributing data. Under SB 194, however, UDRC will be governed by a director who can create a comprehensive vision and research agenda. The UDRC will still maintain a cross-agency advisory board, composed of representatives from K-12, postsecondary, career and technical education, workforce services, and health agencies.

In addition to implementing a new governance model, the bill increases the state’s research capacity by shifting research from individual agencies to the UDRC, and by allowing the UDRC to hire necessary staff. Previously, research was conducted by individual agencies, who had limited capacity to conduct research of interest to external stakeholders such as the legislature or the public.

Furthermore, SB 194 ensures the sustainability of the UDRC by mandating data submission from the State Board of Education, the State Board of Regents, the Utah College of Applied Technology, the Department of Workforce Services, and the Department of Health. Previously, these agencies contributed data voluntarily, and could pull out of the alliance for any reason.

Finally, this bill encourages greater data use by requiring the UDRC to create an “online data visualization portal” that will provide the public and others with access to linked, aggregated, and de-identified data. Users can query data, and view that data in a customizable way.

This law will go into effect on July 1, 2017. WDQC is pleased to see states institutionalizing strong data practices, and creating data governance policies that are best suited to their states. 

Posted In: Utah, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

WDQC Hosts Quality Assurance Meeting

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,

On November 10th, more than 20 state, college, and workforce leaders from around the nation gathered in Nashville, Tennessee to consider policies to assure the quality of short-term programs leading to occupational credentials.

Credentials Meeting roundtable discussion

The one-day event kicked off with a panel discussion about two states meeting the validation challenge – Virginia and Tennessee. Lori Dwyer, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Workforce Policy at the Virginia Community College System, discussed her office’s implementation of the system’s industry certifications list, which is used to evaluate short-term programs that prepare students for certifications and licensures awarded by industry. Kenyatta Lovett, Executive Director of Complete Tennessee, discussed Tennessee’s Drive to 55 effort to ensure that 55 percent of Tennesseans have a degree or certificate by 2025, as well as the ways that Tennessee has aligned education with employer needs.

After the panel discussion, participants engaged in a robust discussion about potential state and federal policy recommendations designed to ensure the quality of short-term programs leading to credentials. Participants discussed questions including:

  • What are the proper components of a quality short-term program leading to credentials?
  • Are any existing quality assurance mechanisms sufficient to assure the quality of short-term programs? 
  • What are the proper outcome metrics and thresholds to measure a quality program?
  • Should these programs be validated by employers? If so, what are reliable methods of employer validation?
  • Should federal Pell grants be expanded to include short-term programs that are validated through a quality assurance mechanism? 

WDQC plans to use the insights gleaned from this convening to draft a set of state and federal policy recommendations. We look forward to sharing them in the new year.


Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign

California Bill Requires Sharing of Licensing Data

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
California Bill Requires Sharing of Licensing Data

Last week, California's Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 66 into law. The bill will improve California’s career and technical education by sharing licensing data to allow for better program evaluation and by streamlining reporting requirements for workforce training programs.

Once California Community College (CCC) students graduate career and technical education programs, it’s difficult to determine if they go on to obtain a license awarded by a third-party. SB 66 would remedy this by requiring the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) to share licensing data for career and technical education students with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) for program evaluation. Data to be shared with the CCCCO includes the recipient’s identifying information (such as social security number or taxpayer identification number), the type of license, and the effective date of the license. This data will help CCCCO gauge the success of its programs by seeing whether graduates are prepared to pass licensure exams, and if obtaining the licensure makes a difference in students' employment and earnings. Ultimatly, this information can serve as the basis for program improvements. 

In addition, SB 66 reduces reporting burdens for institutions by replacing existing accountability metrics for one workforce development program with the metrics from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

This bill was created to implement two of the recommendations to close the skills gap made by the CCCCO’s Taskforce on Workforce, Job Creation, and the Economy. The task forces’ recommendations were based on input from over 1,200 stakeholders, including community college staff, employers, labor organizations, and workforce training entities.

SB 66 received near unanimous support, outlining the importance of data to improving our nation’s education and training programs. The bill will take effect January 1, 2017. 

Posted In: California, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Veterans' Licensing and Certification Demonstration

  ·   By Natalie Howard,
Veterans' Licensing and Certification Demonstration

recently released report describes best practices for states to develop and implement policies that facilitate the transition of veterans into civilian work, including the use of data to identify in-demand occupations and track veterans’ education and career milestones.

In 2011, the Veterans’ Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act authorized a project to identify the most efficient process for transitioning veterans into the civilian workforce. The U.S. Department of Labor and the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices carried out this 18-month project, selecting six states to participate in a demonstration project.

While in the military, servicemembers gain valuable training and experience in specialties that should translate to civilian jobs. Unfortunately, many veterans do not have the licenses or credentials employers require, and face lengthy processes to obtain them.

The federal government has tried to make it easier for veterans to get licenses and certifications they need to find good jobs. However, states are the ultimate authority for controlling entry into most licensed professions. While states are responding through executive orders and legislation, these steps can only go so far.

This project aimed to address this issue by identifying best practices for states to improve pathways for veterans entering the workforce. Throughout the project, states learned many lessons and identified many challenges related specifically to data collection and usage. As the report outlines, states discovered that many steps in their processes could be enhanced or facilitated by – or required – the use of data. State best practices include:

  • Prioritize occupations that are high-demand using labor market information and federal data to focus on occupations with reliable potential to offer pathways to employment.
  • Obtain current and accurate information on veteran populations. In order to understand which occupations veterans would have experience in and transition to, states sought to measure how many veterans held various military occupational specialties or codes (MOC). Some information was scattered across federal and state agencies, and states found that the military did not make available state-level information on the number of servicemembers holding a specific MOC. After some effort, states obtained data from the Department of Defense’s Defense Manpower Data Center, which they used to illuminate potential demand for certain credentials.
  • Enhance use of data collected by veteran-serving agencies.  Official DD214 files, which contain veterans’ military training and experience, were not reaching the appropriate states and were largely paper-based, making large scale analysis challenging. Several states launched efforts to enhance access and use of DD214s, including Wisconsin, which formed a data sharing agreement between the Wisconsin Departments of Veterans Affairs and Workforce Development.
  • Use data to assist with outreach, by identifying and recruiting veterans to participate in training programs. States used data for more targeted outreach and created mechanisms for cross-agency sharing, supplementing unreliable address information from DD214s with information from the Department of Revenue.
  • Research labor market opportunities. States found that some veterans had expectations for their salaries, benefits, and career advancement that were sometimes inconsistent with what was available in the civilian workforce. The report concluded that policymakers would benefit from understanding the extent to which careers will support a standard of living consistent with veterans’ expectations. 

As states work to design and implement strategies for transitioning veterans, data collection capacity is critical to assessing progress and identifying need for adjustment or improvements. This demonstration project highlighted the fact that no single agency has the full range of information and capacity to establish accelerated pathways for veterans. Establishing data collection partnerships, initiating cross-agency data sharing agreements, and formalizing reporting requirements are necessary.

The project also included a policy academy, where states received technical assistance, peer learning opportunities, and access to national experts to inform their plans, including a session with WDQC. In 2014 WDQC facilitated a session with the six participating states, encouraging states to think creatively about utilizing data to measure outcomes of their demonstration strategies. WDQC encourages states to use data systems to answer broader policy questions about veterans programs.

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign
House Committee CTE Draft Bill Proposes Data Changes

The House Education and Workforce Committee today released the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act,” a new bill that would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act through Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. The bill makes the following changes to data and accountability requirements:

  • Strengthens alignment between postsecondary performance measures and the common indicators of performance for core programs under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), including requiring measures of employment and median earnings. A credential attainment metric uses the WIOA definition of a "recognized postsecondary credential," which includes certificates, licenses, and certifications awarded by industry. The bill eliminates current requirements that state eligible agencies negotiate performance rates with the Department of Education, but would require states to publicly report performance on the indicators.
  • Creates federal definitions of Career and Technical Education (CTE) concentrators and participants. These definitions would support consistent performance reporting across states.
  • Repeals authorization of technical assistance and state grants to support the use of labor market information for career exploration and program planning. This is a traditionally unfunded section of the law. Instead, the bill includes a conforming amendment to the Wagner-Peyser Act that would ensure that CTE leaders are accessing labor market information produced by the workforce system. This information is crucial for identifying in-demand industries and occupations.
  • References use of labor market data in state plans, as a tool to align programs of study and career pathways with state economic needs.

These provisions generally reflect WDQC recommendations. However, the draft bill does not include two recommendations: 1) requirement for using wage record data to report on employment outcomes, and 2) allowing national activities funding for pilots to improve credential attainment reporting.

The committee has also released a short summary of the bill. While a hearing date has not yet been announced, it is expected that the committee may try to mark up the draft as early as next week, with a goal of trying to advance the bill through the House before they adjourn for the summer on July 15.

Read more about the legislative proposal in analysis from National Skills CoalitionAssociation of Career and Technical Education, and Advance CTE.

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign
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