With $10 million in funding, an ambitious timeline and a champion in Gov. Gavin Newsom behind it, the Legislature recently passed legislation for a statewide education data system that will follow children from infancy through the workplace.
The marching order for what Newsom is calling a Cradle to Career Data System is included in a lengthy bill elaborating on the 2019-20 state budget for education. It lays out steps over the next 18 months that will determine what the system will look like, how it will be governed, who will have access to data and how privacy and security will be handled.
As of 2016, California was one of only eight states that either didn’t have or wasn’t building a “longitudinal” data system.
With votes of 31-7 in the Senate and 62-14 in the Assembly, Senate Bill 75 is headed to Newsom for his signature.
California’s community colleges, the University of California, California State University and K-12, through a system known as CALPADS, already have comprehensive, though separate, data operations. But only by linking the systems, tracking students’ student outcomes as they move through school, will legislators, educators, researchers and the public begin to answer fundamental policy questions, such as:
- Are early education investments paying off long-term as students progress through education systems and the workforce?
- Are community college reforms increasing completion rates at CSU and UC?
- How prepared are high school students to succeed in college?
- Which career-technical education programs in high school lead to more college degrees, workplace certifications and higher pay?
- What are the long-term effects of access to state financial aid?
Legislators, college and school administrators and boards of trustees can use answers to these and other questions to implement effective education policies and set funding priorities. Parents can use information to choose programs and schools for their children.