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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. To find out more about Connecticut’s data landscape, please visit Connecticut’s state page.  

 

Posted In: Data and Credentials, Connecticut, 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

Indiana Increases Transparency for Data Access

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
Indiana Increases Transparency for Data Access

Indiana has intensified efforts to ensure that all stakeholders have a transparent process by which to request access to data they need to make better decisions about education and the workforce. The Indiana Network of Knowledge (INK) is Indiana’s longitudinal data system, legislatively created to link data from the state’s Department of Education, the Commission for Higher Education, the Family Social Service Administration, and the Department of Workforce Development, over a period of time. The data in INK not only benefits policymakers, but also educators, researchers, and the public.

In order to promote the availability of INK data for use by all of its stakeholders, INK recently hosted a “Data Day” to provide an overview of INK, explain which data is available, and outline how to request it. In addition, Data Day featured a panel of data requesters from a variety of entities to discuss how the data request process has worked for them. This included frank discussion of how the data request system has and hasn’t met the requestors’ needs, in order to help INK improve its process for data sharing.

In addition, INK has published a list of its completed data requests online so that other users can better understand the types of data they can request, and how the request will be handled. The page shows requests that were fulfilled, requests that were forwarded to a single state agency, requests that were denied, and requests that were canceled by the requestor.

The webpage shows that INK data has been used by the Commission for Higher Education to complete a Return on Investment report, by the Department of Workforce Development to determine starting salaries for recent high school graduates, and by Indiana University - Perdue University Indianapolis to find the outcomes of its graduates to review its program offerings.

INK’s website also has a page devoted to outlining the data request process.

WDQC supports INK’s efforts to ensure that all stakeholders have a transparent process by which they can obtain the data they need to make better decisions. If your state is interested in making data available to more stakeholders, please reach out to our staff, who can provide technical assistance.

 

Posted In: Indiana, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

States Pass Data Legislation in First Quarter of 2017

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
States Pass Data Legislation in First Quarter of 2017

The first half of 2017 has been a good one for workforce data. Three states recently passed bills that will codify existing practices or increase data sharing and use. 

  • Maryland recently enacted MD HB 680. This bill extends the amount of time that the Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center can use student and workforce data. The new law increases the time to 20 years, thus enabling long-term longitudinal analysis.

  • North Dakota passed SB 2104 which codifies existing practice by allowing the state’s information technology department to disclose unemployment insurance data for approved research studies pursuant to a memorandum of understanding.

  • Virginia recently passed VA HB 1664, which moves administration of the Virginia Longitudinal Data System (VLDS) to the State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV). The bill also allows SCHEV to work with federal agencies to get wage information for Virginia's sizeable federal workforce, and reauthorizes language set to expire requiring SCHEV to publish reports on post-completion wage and debt outcomes. You can read more about the bill here.

  • Wyoming passed HB 0209, which requires the Department of Workforce services to update and expand upon a 2003 report about wage disparities between men and women in Wyoming. The new report will include (1) if and where disparities exist; (2) the causes of any disparities; (3) the impacts of any disparities on Wyoming’s economy; (4) possible solutions to any disparities; and (5) the costs and benefits of eliminating or reducing any disparities.

WDQC is pleased to see so many states making strides towards better workforce data though legislation. We will continue to identify and publicize these instances. If your state has recently passed workforce data legislation, please let us know.

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

State Data Leaders Convene

  ·   By Christina Pena,
State Data Leaders Convene

WDQC hosted its third annual Fly-In earlier this week, convening state data experts to engage on federal policy in Washington, DC. For two days, representatives from 20 state agencies exchanged ideas with federal officials, national advocates, and foundation leaders.

Participants highlighted how data can influence important decisions, such as where policymakers choose to invest in workforce programs or how faculty design courses. Throughout the event, speakers acknowledged that maintaining privacy and security should remain paramount for data system development and use.

Several key themes for action emerged:

Get WIOA implementation right: As states implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), they are looking to efficiently collect and accurately report on performance outcomes. U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) officials noted on a panel discussion that additional guidelines are on the way on several topics, including supplemental data to determine employment outcomes when wage record matching is not possible. DOL plans to announce the sixth funding round of Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI) grants in spring of 2017, and DOL will encourage states to use the grants to support WIOA implementation.

During another panel session covering data innovations, attendees were briefed on the development and testing of the Training Provider Outcomes Toolkit (TPOT) at the University of Chicago, which will produce an open source solution for training providers to meet WIOA reporting requirements more efficiently and strengthen accountability.

Bridge local-state-federal data divides: Many participants saw state data and operations, especially statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS), as the backbone of workforce data. They acknowledged the importance of federal roles, such as efforts by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to provide information for the entire nation. However, several participants noted that federal agencies should do a better job of providing detailed data to states for further analysis. Panelists and participants also called for more capacity building at the local level, so that program managers can use data more effectively.

Capture better credential and skills data: Leaders from Census and the Manufacturing Institute discussed their promising new pilots to match wage information with different kinds of credentials. Participants also called for better information on skills and ways to signal competencies. Connecting Credentials and the Open Skills Project were among various efforts discussed to make progress toward filling these information gaps. Capturing more data on work-based learning, such as apprenticeships, was also seen as integral to improving knowledge about successful career pathways.

Advocate for accountability based on quality data: Taking into account recent elections, federal policy discussions addressed uncertainty around the development and passage of legislation on postsecondary education. Staff from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee conveyed that momentum continues to build for accountability, but key Congressional leaders disagree on how to get there.

The upcoming Presidential transition was not expected to push aside the issue of harnessing data for performance reporting and building evidence. The bipartisan Commission on Evidence-Based Policy will continue its work through September 2017. Commission staff at the conference encouraged participants to remain engaged, and other federal staff spoke about how evidence requirements will increasingly be built into grants and laws.

In addition to discussing federal policy, state experts heard about philanthropy's role in promoting evidence-based policy during a panel with speakers from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Lumina Foundation. The Fly-In also provided time for peer-to-peer learning about a variety of topics, including data matching techniques and strategies to conduct outreach to data users.

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign

State Funding Essential When Federal Grants Run Out

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
State Funding Essential When Federal Grants Run Out

Federal funding has proven essential to creating, expanding, and maintaining state longitudinal data systems. To date, 48 states, plus the District of Columbia, have received federal State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) or Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI) grants to fund the development, enhancement, and use of longitudinal data systems.

These grants are widely credited as driving the advancement of longitudinal data systems over the past decade. However, just as swiftly as federal grants can spur the creation of infrastructure and innovation, their end can jeopardize progress if states don’t provide similar levels of financial support.

Alaska is one example of a state struggling with maintaining its data system. Using federal and state funding, and with the promise of continued support from the then Governor, Alaska built ANSWERS to link K-12, higher education, and employment data, and used it to analyze program outcomes, and conduct research of value to state agencies. Moving forward, officials intended to reach out to the state’s education and workforce community to identify how ANSWERS could be used to conduct research of value to external stakeholders. To continue with their current level of activity and expand as originally planned, ANSWERS would have needed about $1.2 million a year.

However, the state’s federal grant funds expired in 2016, and ANSWERS officials have struggled to secure financial support from the state legislature. A state budget crisis has forced the legislature to cut funding for many state projects. Additionally, concerns over privacy led the legislature to write legislative intent language prohibiting the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE) from obtaining federal funding for the state’s P-20W data system.

Facing no dedicated funding for ANSWERS, officials had to figure out how to operate the system economically, while maintaining the system’s high privacy and security standards. In order to cut costs, they integrated ANSWERS into one of the partner agencies and used existing resources and minimal agency funding to support the system’s technical operating costs. The transition entailed relying, in part, on existing partner IT resources, assigning core ANSWERS responsibilities to other positions, and integrating the ANSWERS standalone website into ACPE’s. Moving forward, ANSWERS will only be used for research necessary to fulfill the core mission of the agency partners. Plans to make ANSWERS data available for external stakeholders have been scrapped.

Although ANSWERS staff and partner agencies have done an impressive job keeping their system afloat despite funding realities, it is unfortunate that the system has been forced to cut potential uses of data and make other adjustments. Alaska’s example shows why state funding is an element of our 13-point State Blueprint. It is essential for states to commit resources to developing, maintaining, and using state data systems, so that they are not wholly reliant upon federal grants. 

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign

2016 Workforce Data Legislation

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
2016 Workforce Data Legislation

2016 has been a busy year for workforce data legislation. States have passed bills increasing access to unemployment insurance wage records, creating scorecards for students, and requiring supply/demand analysis. Below are some of the bills that passed in 2016, excerpted from National Skills Coalitions’ 2016 Legislative Round-Up.

Both Indiana and Louisiana passed legislation requiring supply/demand reports, which assess the alignment between education and workforce programs and labor market demand to ensure that individuals are prepared for jobs that require skilled workers.

· Indiana Senate Bill 301 requires Indiana’s Department of Workforce Development (DWD) to produce an occupational supply and demand report. The report will show Indiana’s expected workforce needs over the next decade, as well as the supply of education and training necessary to meet those needs. The occupational demand report will categorize workforce needs and training requirements by occupation, for both the state as a whole and designated regions. DWD will have to submit the report to relevant stakeholders by July 1, 2016. Once released, the report will be used to align secondary and postsecondary career, technical, and vocational education programs with employer needs.

· Louisiana Senate Bill 446 directs the Board of Regents, in collaboration with the Department of Economic Development and the Louisiana Workforce Commission, to conduct a comprehensive review of the state’s need for postsecondary education and evaluate the state's postsecondary offerings (including credit and noncredit academic programs). The bill also requires a report to the Senate and House Committees on Education that includes current and forecasted demand and recommendations about how to close potential skills gaps.

Arizona and Massachusetts have both increased access to data from unemployment insurance wage records to support program evaluation or reporting.

· Arizona House Bill 2666 allows the Governor’s Economic Opportunity Office (GEOO) to fulfill requests for unemployment insurance data from specified entities to support evaluation of the state’s workforce and education programs, as well as to develop labor market information. Entities eligible to receive the data include the Arizona Department of Economic Security, the Department of Education, universities, and community colleges. Requesting entities must prove that they can keep the data confidential, must have security safeguards in place, and cannot disclose information that might identify individuals or their employers.

· Massachusetts House Bill 4116 includes language that authorizes the state to share wage records in order to comply with WIOA reporting requirements.

North Carolina has enacted scorecard legislation to increase accountability and help people select career paths, majors, and postsecondary institutions.

· North Carolina Senate Bill 536 requires the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) to build a “Know Before You Go” webpage providing information on the state’s projected employment needs and outcomes for graduates of the state’s public and private postsecondary institutions. Specifically, the website will detail the state’s projected employment needs, the salary ranges of needed employment areas, the associated college majors, and the institutions offering those majors. NCSEAA’s website will contain outcomes information such as average and median loan debt, average and median salary, and the percentage of graduates employed within six months of graduation, broken down by major.

Michigan enacted legislation appropriating funds to improve its data infrastructure.

· Michigan House Bill 5294 appropriates $8,778,500 to the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development to replace the state’s current workforce reporting system with the Michigan Integrated Data System, in order to comply with new federal reporting requirements. The funds will also be used to enhance the state’s existing Workforce Longitudinal Data System, by increasing data sharing between state agencies in order to determine outcomes of state and federal workforce and education programs. The appropriation is a one-time appropriation.

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Virginia's VLDS and the 2016 General Assembly

  ·   By Tod Massa
Virginia's VLDS and the 2016 General Assembly

The 2016 session of the Virginia General Assembly, is all but a memory, save for the upcoming reconvened session when the legislature takes action on the Governor’s vetoes. The session was an exciting one for VLDS partners as the Governor had bills establishing VLDS in both chambers and an introduced budget of $2.5 million over the biennium for VLDS.

Both SB636 and HB1036 would have given SCHEV [State Council of Higher Education for Virginia] a new duty to its existing list:

"21. Develop and maintain a virtual, comprehensive longitudinal data system for the purposes of providing authorized researchers and policy makers, including the Governor, General Assembly, and agency policy boards access to educational, health, social service, and employment outcome data; improving the efficacy of state services; and aiding decision making. The Director shall establish an advisory committee consisting of the heads of participating agencies or their designees to provide related policy guidance. The Council shall provide an annual report concerning the data system to the Governor the General Assembly, and participating agency policy boards."

The bill’s intent was to do little more than authorize the role of VLDS and place it under SCHEV for administration because of the breadth of SCHEV’s duties across a spectrum of citizen advancement. While the Senate bill made it through with little opposition, it ultimately died in the House Education committee. The House bill was tabled early on in House Appropriations Higher Education subcommittee. Throughout this process, Elizabeth Creamer, Advisor Workforce Development worked as a tireless advocate on behalf of VLDS. Together we visited most every member of the House Education committee and testified in subcommittee and committee meetings in both chambers. If nothing else, we built a lot of awareness and goodwill for next year. We will be back.

The budget news was less disappointing. In crafting the Governor’s budget, a number of items were placed in SCHEV’s budget as line items. House Appropriations committee members struck all of those items, leaving us in doubt of the future during most of the session. Fortunately, when the conferees released the details of their negotiations, we learned that SCHEV had been provided VLDS funding to the amount of $357,500 per year, or $715,000 over the biennium. While a far cry from the generous amount designated by Governor McAuliffe, we now have funds to keep the lights on and move forward with an aggressive agenda to create data and reports of value to the Commonwealth. This is really a great opportunity for the VLDS partnership to make an imprint on state policy.

"L. Out of this appropriation, $357,500 each year from the general fund is designated to support research and analysis and the administration of a multi-agency longitudinal data system to improve consumer information and policy recommendations."

At the end of January, I wrote (on the SCHEV Research blog) that this effort “is not just about the data. VLDS is about reaching to ensure excellence for Virginians. Through thoughtful and well-considered analysis, we can improve our services to Virginians. Through a more complete knowledge of service outcomes tied with a greater understanding of how education and social services support a working Virginia, we can create greater excellence in the lives of Virginians.” VLDS is also about a truly talented team of professionals working together to serve Virginia in variety of ways, most especially through modeling collaborative behavior across the enterprise. It is a pleasure to work with this partnership.

This content was copied, with the author's permission, from the VLDS blog. You can read the post here. To learn more about Virginia, please visit Virginia’s state page.

Tod Massa is the Director of Policy Research and Data Warehousing at the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. 

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign
New GAO Report Discusses WIOA's Impact on Job Training Data

This week, the Government Accountability Office released a legislatively mandated report about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act’s (WIOA) impact on job training data. In part, the report discusses what changes states plan to make to implement WIOA and the challenges they are facing. The report profiles three states (IllinoisNew Hampshire, and Texas), which have experienced varying levels of success with data sharing.

Under WIOA, all the major programs (i.e. Title I, Wagner-Peyser Employment Services, adult education, and vocational rehabilitation) are held to the same performance indicators: employment after program exit, median earnings, credential attainment, measureable skills gains, and effectively serving employers. In addition, WIOA requires states to use wage records, in accordance with state law, to measure program performance. This is a change from the previous law, the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), where indicators varied across programs and the use of wage records was not required for Adult Education and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR).

The Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Education (ED) plan to issue final regulations defining the terms in the common metrics in June 2016. While DOL is providing informal guidance to states in the absence of final regulation, ED has told states that it can’t answer questions related to the ongoing rulemaking, according to GAO. Without these regulations and related guidance, some states are struggling with early implementation while others are intentionally avoiding it. Those states want to prevent investing resources into early implementation efforts that may not be compliant with the final regulations. Additionally, some states worry that they may not be able to comply by July 2016, the time WIOA requires states to start using the common measures, and just one month after the anticipated release of the final regulations.

Nevertheless, states are beginning to think about the potential changes they will be required to make under WIOA. A summary of potential changes and related challenges is below:

  • Data System Integration: Although WIOA encourages integration of program data systems, only Texas is in the process of integration. Illinois has yet to determine an approach. State officials in New Hampshire believe that implementing a new integrated system may be cost prohibitive, and may explore automated data sharing between programs, instead of integration. More generally, the report cites inadequate IT-staff capacity, antiquated systems, and undeveloped or difficult cross-agency relationships as challenges to system integration. The President’s 2017 budget has requested increased funding for Workforce Data Quality Initiative Grants to help fund these new integrated systems.

  • New Data Collection: WIOA will require ED-administered programs to report more new data than DOL-administered programs. DOL-administered programs already report most of the data required by the new core indicators, including employment and earnings information. However, these indicators are totally new to some ED programs. Adult Education programs didn’t have to report median earnings under WIA. While VR did report employment and earnings information, WIOA will require the program to tracker longer-term outcomes. These changes will require many ED-administered programs to find ways to collect employment and earnings data. Illinois and Texas plan to use their access to unemployment insurance records for federal reporting of median incomes. However, New Hampshire, whose state law prohibits the collection of Social Security Numbers needed to match participant data, won’t be able to. Instead, New Hampshire’s VR agency is considering adding a question about earnings to its participant survey. A final metric, new to all programs, is the employer service metric. Illinois and New Hampshire both plan to coordinate outreach and interaction with employers across their programs.

  • Integrating New Data Fields into Data Systems: Some of the states use contractors to build their systems – and these states will likely rely on the contractors to change the systems to accord with the new data elements mandated by WIOA. Other states do it in-house, and will be solely responsible for the changes. The states seem to doubt their ability to complete these changes by the deadline, according to GAO. Texas VR officials said that in the past, it took about two years to implement major changes to performance reporting. New Hampshire VR will be implementing changes though this summer.

In addition, the report discussed breaches of program data systems. According to the report, none of the three states had any outside data breaches. However, the states are developing innovative security measures to protect personal information. For example, Texas has an electronic flag that warns employees if their e-mails contain confidential information so it can be removed before sending. New Hampshire regularly scans data servers for vulnerabilities.  

For more information on WIOA guidance, see the National Skills Coalition’s “Skills Blog.” Also see WDQC’s infographic “How WIOA Data Works.” 

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign
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