Facilitating Development of a Multistate Longitudinal Data Exchange | Prior Gates-Funded SLDS Project

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Fostering Collaborative State-Level Education and Workforce Database Development

Project Overview

There is considerable energy and momentum nationwide moving toward longitudinal systems that track individual students. Such systems hold the promise of providing expanded analytical power enabling answers to questions concerning student progression and performance.

This project is particularly aimed at building data systems that span K-12 education, postsecondary education, and workforce data. It also seeks to engage multiple states in developing a prototype framework that could be used to establish and govern a multi-state exchange of data. Only by linking individual-level data in such ways can critical policy questions be adequately answered. Existing systems are especially lacking in being able to track workforce participation across state lines and in understanding issues of equity in educational and labor force participation.

The project has two principal activities. First, a meeting held in Boulder, CO in December 2008 gathered together representatives from the K-12 education, postsecondary education, and workforce agencies in 14 of WICHE’s member states. Second, WICHE is leading an effort to develop a prototype framework for how states can work together to exchange data along all levels to equip themselves with far better information about the flow of human capital. WICHE has also provided technical assistance to South Dakota and Alaska as part of this project.


Prototype framework development

In June 2009, WICHE and its partners met with managers of the K-12 education, postsecondary education, and workforce data systems in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Hawaii. At that meeting, we began a discussion about how a multi-state data exchange might be organized and governed. Our goal was to create a framework for a Human Capital Development Data System that would enable states to better understand the stock and flows of human capital into and through their education systems and into the workforce without having that information compromised by mobility across state lines. With federal stimulus money earmarked for state longitudinal data system development (see http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/grant_information.asp for the federal Request for Applications), there is tremendous energy across the country. But it is essential for future analytical capacity that there not be 50 (or more) different designs, and a prototype framework could provide a useful model for how such a data exchange might work.

Brian Prescott and Peter Ewell wrote A Framework for a Multi-State Human Capital Development Data System describing the results of WICHE and its partners’ work on this topic.



June 29, 2009 – Olympia, Washington

June 16-17, 2009 – Anchorage, Alaska

December 15-17, 2008 – Boulder, Colorado