Multistate Longitudinal Data Exchange


WICHE's Multistate Longitudinal Data Exchange (MLDE), funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will build a system to exchange individual-level education and workforce data between at least 10 states. The project builds on previous work (also funded by the Gates Foundation) to share data between four states. The effort will help state policymakers and researchers answer important research questions about the development and mobility of human capital by linking education and employment outcomes across state lines.

Recent Publications

Fostering State-to-State Data Exchanges

This brief, which is part of a series of papers recently published by the Institute for Higher Education Policy, draws on the lessons from the Multistate Longitudinal Data Exchange to identify how a broader state-to-state exchange could be established to help answer key questions about postsecondary education. 

Among the key lessons summarized by the brief are that the very real barriers to establishing such an exchange are surmountable and these exchanges can produce real and actionable information for students and their parents as well as policymakers.

Building Capacity for Tracking Human Capital Development
and Its Mobility Across State Lines


Building Capacity for Tracking Human Capital Development and Its Mobility Across State Lines CoverThis brief condenses findings from two lengthier reports on the Multistate Longitudinal Data Exchange, a project led by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).  This brief discusses:

The process that led to the exchange of data among the four participating states, including the development of data sharing agreements and the governance structure employed by the project.

Some of the policy-relevant findings derived from the data produced during the exchange. The results from this initial pilot show that public policy can be better informed by incorporating data sources that take the mobility of individuals into account.

Beyond Borders: Understanding the Development and Mobility of Human Capital in an Age of Data-Driven Accountability

Beyound Borders thumbnail cover graphicThis report describes the process and lessons from the pilot project involving Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Among the lessons identified in this report are:

The MLDE is feasible. The central goal of the pilot was proving it is possible to successfully exchange student-level data across sectors and states. Student confidentiality is protected through legally compliant data sharing agreements and a common, usable dataset can be assembled from myriad data sources.

Data sharing provides more comprehensive information about workforce outcomes and swirl in the education and labor sectors. Exchanging data across state lines plugged significant gaps in each states’ standalone data that exist from student and worker migration, and gave state leaders an enhanced picture of workforce outcomes of graduates from their state.

The MLDE demonstrates how cooperative cross-state data sharing could help address workforce planning. With an arrangement like the MLDE, state policymakers can also investigate how their state attracts workers who were educated elsewhere, which can be a crucial component of meeting current and future workforce needs.

A Glimpse Beyond State Lines

A Glimpse Beyond State LinesThis report presents findings from a series of analyses of the exchanged data. The report presents a richer picture than would be available without the enhanced data enabled by states agreeing to share their individual-level education and workforce data. Among the findings are:

The data exchange improved information available to state policymakers. Sharing data between the four states made it possible to determine where college students ended up after graduation for 7 percent more college graduates than the states would have known about from their own standalone data; the number of students found after graduation would increase if data were available from more states.

Over 60 percent of recent college graduates remained in the state where they graduated for at least the year after graduation. The data also show that the incidence was even greater among recent high school graduates of the states.

Earnings can vary significantly. Perhaps not surprisingly, recent college graduates’ earnings can vary significantly—by as much as 50 percent when one looks beyond overall earnings rates to things like field of study and whether graduates continue in their studies as they work. And, from a cross-state data exchange such as this, one can also look at how earnings vary for graduates who remain in state to work or go elsewhere.

WICHE received funding for the project in July 2014. As the project develops, additional information and resources will be available on this page.