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Groundbreaking Project Releases Nationwide Earnings of UT System Graduates

The University of Texas (UT) System recently published aggregated data on the earnings of its graduates who move out of state. Enabled by a unique partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) program, the project shows great promise for better information on the workforce outcomes of postsecondary programs and institutions nationwide. 

The UT System makes this information available to the public via its online tool, seekUT, which includes program level information by institutions within the UT System. The seekUT online tool now includes out-of-state as well as in-state data on graduates, showing their median earnings by program-level at one, five, and ten years after graduation, as well as their debt-to-income ratios. The tool also provides the percentage of students who pursue education beyond the baccalaureate level, and covers undergraduate, graduate, medical, and dental programs. Eventually, the project will release information disaggregated by U.S. region.

The addition of nationwide earnings data is important because graduates who move out of state for work tend to have higher earnings than those who remain in the same state where they earned their credentials. Moreover, graduate degree recipients tend to move out of state more than those who receive baccalaureate degrees. 

In order to produce the nationwide earnings information, researchers matched UT System student data with the LEHD's earnings data from states' unemployment insurance wage records and earnings data from the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management, with some exclusions. The project shows the ability of agencies to maintain stringent safeguards that protect privacy and maintain security around systems that match student data with information from other administrative records. This process could help to inform the creation of a national student-level data system.

Project leaders said this is the first time a postsecondary institution has collaborated with a federal agency to measure earnings outcomes that are more complete than what is currently available through the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard. Unlike the Scorecard, UT System data includes non-federally aided students and shows the earnings of completers by program of study, rather than lumping together the earnings of completers and non-completers at the institutional level.

LEHD has been working with the Colorado Department of Higher Education and has been in discussion with other states to explore similar projects. The lessons learned from the UT System project will also inform the Census Bureau’s efforts to scale up other education research projects in the future.

LEHD is open to forming new partnerships with other institutions so they too can discover how their graduates fare in the workforce nationwide. LEHD provides more information about its methodology and data files, as well as contact information, on its Postsecondary Employment Outcomes project page.

Posted In: Texas, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

MI Releases New Data Tool for Students and Workers

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
MI Releases New Data Tool for Students and Workers

Michigan’s Pathfinder is an online career planning tool intended to help students make informed choices about their education and career options.  The state tool is similar to the website envisioned by the College Transparency Act supported by WDQC.

It’s the result of several agencies from across state government working together to provide information for students and the people who advise them, including parents, teachers and counselors. But it’s also an effective tool for adults looking at new career options.

The tool allows users to search for education and career information by career name, school, or program type. Data on careers includes details about what a student can expect to do in that career and the relevant training required, as well as information about wages and occupational growth over the next decade. Data on schools includes graduation rates, the cost of tuition and fees, and information about the graduate debt. Data on programs includes the employment and earnings outcomes of graduates one and five years after graduation.

In order to ensure that students can create pathways to their chosen careers, users have the option to see information about careers, schools, and programs all on one page.  

Pathfinder is populated with information from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard, which was created under the Obama administration to highlight key measures about college costs and value to help students make smarter postsecondary decisions. Pathfinder is also populated with Michigan wage record and educational performance data, as well as the state’s labor market information.

The website also includes sections directing students to information about apprenticeships, on-the-job training, self-employment and financial aid.

The Talent Investment Agency, which was the lead on the project, plans to continue to enhance the tool and update the data at least annually. You can learn more about Michigan’s data infrastructure by visiting Michigan’s state page.

WDQC applauds Michigan for making more information about education and career options available to students and their parents. Scorecards are one of the 13 elements featured in our State Blueprint for creating strong state data systems, that provide useable information to relevant stakeholders.

Posted In: Michigan, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
Long-Awaited Higher Education Bill Calls for Better Consumer Information; But Would Miss Wage Data for Many Students

Earlier today, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, on behalf of herself and Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), introduced H.R. 4508 to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). The new bill, titled the “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity through Education Reform” (PROSPER) Act, does not include the College Transparency Act that WDQC and over 130 other organizations have supported, and lacks some of its stronger provisions. The new bill, however, does propose changes to improve consumer information.

The PROSPER Act would create a public College Dashboard website to replace the current College Navigator and show information on all students at institutions eligible for Title IV federal financial aid. The Department of Education would publish aggregated information on enrollment, average completion, average cost, and financial aid on websites linked with the new Dashboard website. 

Graduation rates and other metrics would also go beyond covering first-time, full-time students. This information is important for showing the experiences of transfer students and other non-traditional students who return to school years later or attend institutions on a part-time basis. The Dashboard would also provide more information on particular demographic groups, such as those who have a disability, or receive Veteran’s benefits.

The College Dashboard would report at the program level, not just the institutional level, on information such as:

  • Median earnings of students five and ten years after graduating with a certificate or degree; and,
  • Average debt of student borrowers at graduation.

This program level information, however, would be available only on students who received federal financial aid, and would therefore not be representative of all students. This would severely limit the usefulness of the College Dashboard as a consumer information tool.

As a way to promote the College Dashboard, the bill requires the Secretary of Education to provide students with a link to the College Dashboard page of each institution listed on a student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Although the bill states the goal of reducing the reporting burden associated with the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the PROSPER Act does not seek to replace most of IPEDS through matching administrative data, which the creation of a federal student level data system could help deliver on, and which the College Transparency Act would bring about.

WDQC will continue analyzing the bill and provide updates in the future. With a Congressional environment that is busier than usual, the Senate is expected to take up the bill early next year.

For additional updates, including on non-data sections of the bill, check the websites of our colleague organizations:

Posted In: 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

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

KY Postsecondary Feedback Report Now Interactive

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,

For the first time, the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics (KCEWS) has made their Postsecondary Feedback report interactive. The report shows what happens to students at Kentucky’s public postsecondary institutions after they graduate. Previous versions of the report were published online, but static. With this change, students can more easily make informed decisions about their education options.

The Postsecondary Feedback Report provides information about graduate’s employment and wages, as well as information about further postsecondary education. Information can be broken down by institution and degree level. While the tool does not break down outcomes by major or program, it does break down outcomes by type of program, such as business, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), and trades.

Kentucky Dashboard

The report utilizes data from the Kentucky Longitudinal Data System (KLDS). You can learn more about KLDS by visiting Kentucky’s state page.  

WDQC applauds Kentucky for making more information about education and training options available to students and their parents, as well as to educators and program managers, in an easy to understand format. Our staff is available to provide assistance to other states looking to create data tools. 

Posted In: Kentucky, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Institutions Produce Actionable Data

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
Institutions Produce Actionable Data

Data can help students succeed. The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) and the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) show this in 14 recently released case studies, describing how higher education institutions are using student-level data to produce actionable information that improves student decision making and outcomes.  

One case study features the University of Texas (UT) System, which partnered with the Texas Workforce Commission to find employment and earnings information about past students. UT uses this data to produce a free online tool, called seekUT, which helps potential students with college and career planning. The tool shows information that will help students consider the costs and benefits of institutions and programs, including the median loan debt of past students, and median earnings of graduates one, five, and 10 years after graduation. The tool also shows industries that are employing UT graduates, so that potential students can seek out high-demand career paths.

Furthermore, Miami Dade College (MDC), the nation’s largest community college, uses data to develop targeted interventions to help students succeed. Influenced by the state’s performance-based funding law, which funds community colleges, in part, based upon job placement and wage rates of graduates, MDC now tracks student employment and entry-level wage rates of students who complete their studies. It establishes cohorts of students starting in a particular semester, and continues to track their status every semester, for eight years. By doing this, MDC can take lessons learned from past trends and apply them toward targeted interventions to help current and future students succeed.

Ultimately, these case studies reveal how data can directly impact student success during and after programs of study. They are intended to illustrate the importance of state longitudinal data systems, as well as more complete national data about postsecondary students.

WDQC has vocally supported both state longitudinal data systems and the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, which would lift the ban on a federal student record system, thus enabling better national data about postsecondary students.

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Reports Examine State Performance Info

  ·   By Rachel Zinn,
Reports Examine State Performance Info

Two studies released recently by the U.S. Department of Labor examine "How States Manage Eligible Training Provider Lists" and state efforts on "Using Workforce Data Quality Initiative Databases to Develop and Improve Consumer Report Card Systems."

The reports were written in 2015 and 2014, respectively, so they do not capture much of the state progress achieved since implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). However, some findings echo our more recent experiences with states and provide lessons for future state work.

Forty-six states responded to a survey about state management of eligible training provider lists (ETPL), which include all training providers eligible to receive federal workforce funding. States varied widely in how rigorously they trimmed ETPLs based on performance information, and even how much information providers were required to report. In some states, responsibility for ETPL management was delegated to the local level.

About a third of states do not have a statewide requirement for how often the ETPL is updated, and over one quarter do not restrict ETPLs to programs that provide training for high-wage, high-demand jobs. 

Many states reported challenges with getting reliable performance data on training programs. They often relied on self-reported data from providers, which may be incomplete or inaccurate. WIOA encourages the use of Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage records to calculate employment outcomes, but survey respondents cited challenges in accessing this information. The Department of Labor has been working with states to improve data access and reporting capabilities.

The report also noted a disconnect between training program information that states make publicly available and the information they use to determine eligibility for funding. Of the 26 states that made public information available, five did not use the same information for public reporting and eligibility.

Similarly, the report about consumer scorecards found that few state workforce data systems are used to manage ETPLs.

WDQC's parent organization, National Skills Coalition, recommends that the Department of Labor encourage governors to manage ETPLs and consumer reporting so that these two activities utilize reliable, consistent data. We also urge training providers and state officials to collaborate on performance reporting so that outcome information is based on wage record matching done at the state level. 

The scorecard report identifies the lack of for-profit training provider information in state data systems as the greatest impediment to creating comprehensive scorecards that are effective in helping prospective students choose between a range of training options. 

The report concludes with recommendations for the Department of Labor, including "a coordinated effort to encourage state support of [scorecards] by systematically publicizing their value to state-level policymakers." WDQC plans to assist with this effort by continuing to mobilize advocates on state scorecards and other policies outlined in our Data Policy Toolkit.

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Georgia Releases New Scorecard and Earnings Report

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,

Students in Georgia now have an online tool from which they can learn more about potential educational options in the state. In early January 2017, Georgia's Governor's Office of Student Achievement released the Georgia Higher Learning and Earnings (GHLE) dashboard. The interactive tool allows users to see how much money graduates of Georgia’s universities and technical colleges are earning one and five years after graduation. Users can view this information by institution, degree type, or major.

 Georgia Dashboard

The state also released a companion report, Georgia Higher Learning and Earnings, analyzing graduates earnings information. The report found that wages tend to increase as students achieve higher levels of education – although earnings can vary significantly between programs of study and institutions.

The GHLE dashboard and companion report are populated with data from GA AWARDS, Georgia’s P20-W longitudinal data system. GA AWARDS contains data from the University System of Georgia, the Technical College System of Georgia, the Georgia Independent College Association, the National Student Clearinghouse, the Georgia Department of Labor, and the Georgia Student Finance Commission. You can learn more about GA AWARDS and Georgia’s data infrastructure by visiting Georgia’s state page.

WDQC applauds Georgia for making more information about education and training options available to students and their parents. Our staff is available to provide assistance to other states looking to create data tools. 

Posted In: Georgia, 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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