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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
Goodwill to Participate in Virginia Longitudinal Data System

In 2018, the Virginia Longitudinal Data System (VLDS) will begin receiving individual-level data from the members of the Virginia Goodwill Network (VGN). VGN is a consortium of six regional Goodwill organizations, non-profit community-based organizations (CBO), providing collaborative workforce development programs and services to tens of thousands of Virginians each year, especially those with barriers to employment. The collaboration will enable VGN to better serve individuals and the state to better understand the full scope of workforce training activities within its borders.

A number of states, such as Washington and New Jersey, collect student-level information from CBOs and private institutions through state regulation, or the Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) process. ETPL include all of the programs that are eligible to offer training to individuals receiving Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) aid. Virginia is one of the first states to collect this data outside of the ETPL process. If expanded to include other CBOs, this process could fill one of the most common gaps within state longitudinal data systems.

In order to share its data with VLDS, VGN will function like participating state agencies. As a federated data system, all data in VLDS is maintained within participating agencies and linked together pursuant to specific requests. In order to submit data to VLDS, Goodwill is planning to create its own database (at a total cost of approximately $20,000), containing individual-level information about program participants. VGN will occupy a seat on VLDS’s governing board, so that they can approve or deny requests to use their data.

Under the current agreement between Goodwill and VLDS, Goodwill will receive deidentified individual level information about participants’ outcomes, including whether they find employment within the state. Goodwill plans to partner with the University of Richmond to better analyze this data and utilize it for program improvement.

VLDS also will benefit from Goodwill’s data. The state plans to use the data to conduct comprehensive research about Virginia’s workforce education and training programs, and to better meet state and federal reporting requirements.

WDQC would like to congratulate VLDS and Goodwill on their innovative agreement. We hope that other states are soon able to do the same, so that all states can paint more complete pictures of their education and workforce systems. 

Posted In: Virginia, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
Members of Congress Demand Better Outcomes Data on Postsecondary Education

During a special session in the House of Representatives last night, Members of Congress explained why they support the College Transparency Act (CTA), and called on other members to join them.

Both the Senate and House introduced the bipartisan bill in May 2017. The CTA would create a student level data system at the U.S. Department of Education to provide students, postsecondary institutions, businesses, policy leaders, and the public with better information about what programs are helping students to earn credentials and get good jobs.

Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI), a lead co-sponsor of the bill, was joined by Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH), Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA), and Rep. Tom Garrett (R-VA). During their floor statements, they expressed their strong support for the CTA because it would:

  • Show earnings by program level. Rep. Mitchell talked about the importance of providing earnings information to students so in the future they can know how quickly they can pay off their student personal loans. The CTA would provide students with better information on how much students earn after completing programs of study at institutions around the nation.
  • Empower more students. Rep. Stivers and Rep. Smucker noted that the system would count more students than existing systems and provide a better indication of what postsecondary experiences are like for non-traditional students since the information could be broken down by demographic categories and would include all students at institutions eligible for federal student aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act.
  • Promote efficiencies. Rep. Mitchell lamented that the government already collects reams of data, but without a better system, we can’t gather data in a manner that’s useful to students.  The CTA would overturn the ban on a student level data system, take data the government already collects, and match those data to provide better information for government agencies, researchers, and students, while reducing the time needed for surveys.
  • Close skills gaps.  Rep. Mitchell also lauded the CTA for its potential to close skills gaps. WDQC has long advocated for better information about post-college employment and earnings that would help schools, policymakers, and businesses work together to align education with labor market demand.
  • Protect individual privacy and keep data secure. Floor speakers touted the privacy and security protections of the system proposed under the CTA. Rep. Garrett pointed out that the system wouldn’t disclose information on individuals, and Rep. Mitchell cited the agency that would lead CTA efforts, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), for its excellent track record. The bill would require the data system to use up-to-date security standards, prohibit the sale of data, induce penalties for illegally obtaining information, and prohibit the collection of health data and other sensitive information.

During his floor speech, Rep. Mitchell held up a board showing the long list of diverse organizations, including WDQC, which have stated their support for the CTA. That count is now over 130. Moreover, the House side bill now has 28 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle. Please reach out to WDQC if your organization would like to join other organizations in expressing support.

WDQC applauds these efforts and will continue to work with organizations and policymakers to advocate for better data on postsecondary student outcomes. 

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign
Bipartisan Bill Aims to Improve Postsecondary Data

Update: The day after Senate introduction, Representative Mitchell (R-MI) introduced the bill in the House, along with several cosponsors.

In a bipartisan effort, four members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee today introduced a bill to help students, policymakers, educators, and employers make informed decisions about postsecondary education. 

Senators Hatch (R-UT), Warren (D-MA), Cassidy (R-LA), and Whitehouse (D-RI), are sponsoring the College Transparency Act. The bill would create a postsecondary student data system at the U.S. Department of Education, in order to publicize aggregate information about completion rates, debt repayment, and employment outcomes for postsecondary programs.

WDQC supports the bill — along with our parent organization, the National Skills Coalition — and other national groups including the Institute for Higher Education Policy, New America, and Young Invincibles. 

The Act builds on the Student Right To Know Before You Go Act, a bill introduced in both the House and Senate in previous years by bipartisan co-sponsors, including Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Mark Warner (D-VA), and Representatives Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Mia Love (R-UT), and Susan Davis (D-CA). WDQC has advocated for that legislation, so we are excited to see its main features echoed in the new proposal by Senate committee members. 

The College Transparency Act would revise the Higher Education Act (HEA) to create a postsecondary data system that would: 

  • Protect student privacy and adhere to best practices in data security
  • Empower all students to make more informed choices about where to spend their precious time and money
  • Better steward taxpayer dollars
  • Align education with labor market demand and help employers identify programs that are effectively preparing students for the workforce
  • Only be used to help and never to harm students
  • Reduce reporting burden for colleges and universities by replacing the student components of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), including for students who do not receive Title IV aid

Right now, the HEA prohibits the Department of Education from collecting data on all postsecondary students. The Department's existing College Scorecard only includes students receiving federal aid in the calculation of key metrics, like post-college earnings. This presents an incomplete and potentially misleading picture of how well postsecondary programs are serving students.

The Act would overturn the HEA prohibition, creating a data system that would help students and families choose programs that demonstrate strong outcomes, and assist policymakers and educators in implementing policies and practices that help more students succeed. For the marketplace to function effectively, all these stakeholders need access to high-quality information that reflects all types of students, and can look at outcomes across state lines and between institutions as students transfer. The federal government — with its access to existing data, including employment and earnings — is uniquely positioned to compile that information, while alleviating institutional reporting burden.

Protecting students’ privacy is a focus of the Act. It includes protections that limit data disclosures, prohibit the sale of data, penalize illegal data use, prohibit use of the data for law enforcement, and safeguard personably identifiable information.

WDQC will work with the Postsecondary Data Collaborative on outreach to our networks to express support for the Act, with the goal of making a postsecondary student data system a central part of ongoing discussions on HEA reauthorization.

Artwork courtesy of Third Way

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign
Apprenticeship Data Needed to Tell Success Story

Participants at the 600-person Apprenticeship Forward conference in Washington D.C. raised several important themes, including the need for better data about apprenticeships to demonstrate that they are an effective way for workers from diverse backgrounds to gain skills and advance in careers.

National Skills Coalition (WDQC’s parent organization) and New America organized the event, along with seven other organizations and in consultation with the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor. The conference on May 4 - 5 convened business leaders, state policymakers, educators, and other stakeholders to discuss three critical challenges facing apprenticeship expansion: increasing industry engagement; addressing equity while diversifying the apprenticeship pipeline; and implementing new public policies.

The importance of apprenticeship data was raised in sessions throughout the conference, and was the featured topic on a panel moderated by WDQC Policy Analyst Jenna Leventoff. Jenna opened by explaining the basics of apprenticeship data, and then engaged speakers:

Greg Wilson, Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Apprenticeship, who discussed planned upgrades to DOL’s Registered Apprenticeship Partners Information Data System (RAPIDS). This case management system allows local, state, and federal apprenticeship managers to monitor data about programs and apprentices. DOL is making the system more user-friendly, including the addition of online tools that will allow the public to analyze aggregate data. Greg also noted that DOL is working to share more personally identifiable individual-level data with state agencies, so they can enhance their own analyses. Researchers interested in working with individual-level data without personally identifying information may request access to an anonymized data file.

Pradeep Kotamraju, Bureau of Career and Technical Education, Iowa Department of Education, who discussed his state’s growing emphasis on work-based learning and the limitations of relevant data. Pradeep said that Iowa has been successful in supplementing administrative program data with surveys, but it will be helpful to get additional information from RAPIDS.

Valerie Piet, Montana Department of Labor and Industry, who said that her state is embarking on research to identify the return on investment (ROI) for apprenticeship programs, and is using data to identify policy priorities. Valeri noted that only 40 percent of those who start an apprenticeship complete it, so Montana is trying to identify effective interventions to improve completion. The state also is working to get all registered apprenticeships on the list of eligible providers under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), so that disadvantaged populations will have easier access to information about apprenticeship programs with a track record of success.

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign

CEDS Request Public Comment

  ·   By Rachel Zinn,
CEDS Request Public Comment

The Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) initiative released a draft Version 7 of a voluntary set of data elements that states can use to manage information for a variety of education and workforce programs. CEDS leaders encourage the public to comment by May 4, particularly on the 106 new data element definitions and 93 updated elements.

The Version 7 draft adds and refines multiple data elements relating to credentials and competency frameworks, as well as elements on postsecondary financing and other education issues. 

CEDS develops data elements through consultations with education experts, as well as an open comment process. The initiative defines data elements to facilitate state and local collection of data, and help make data comparable across systems. In addition to many data elements pertaining to K-12 and postsecondary education, CEDS includes elements relevant to career and technical education, adult education, and workforce programs.

A recent CEDS webinar provides additional information about new data elements and the process for providing comments.


Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign
Workforce Data Explained: Using Data to Narrow California Skills Gaps

WDQC interviewed Jillian Leufgen, Program Analyst with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, Doing What MATTERS for Jobs and the Economy, about the strides made toward understanding student success in California’s labor market.

California Community Colleges is the largest system of postsecondary education in the United States. The system uses LaunchBoard to link education data and wage records to provide community college employees with information about outcomes of career and technical education programs, and Salary Surfer provides similar information for the public.

Additional Resources:

  • AB 1417 (2004): legislation that led the Chancellor’s Office to design and implement a performance measurement system
  • Since the video was produced, a flurry of activity has happened in California. The state legislature passed SB 66 (2016) to allow sharing of data on licenses to track impact on employment and wages. California Community Colleges also aligned performance data with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
Posted In: California, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
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