Data is a powerful tool that state leaders can use to improve the quality of career readiness opportunities for youth and adult learners, demystifying a complex education and workforce system and equipping learners to make informed decisions about their education and career goals.
Armed with accurate, timely and disaggregated data, state leaders can also investigate barriers to access and take action to ensure equity, access and success for historically marginalized learners. Yet many states lack the robust, inter-connected data infrastructure to make these actions possible. And even states with strong data systems have issues with making the data accessible to those who need it and building capacity to use data effectively at the state and local levels.
This tool is designed to assist state leaders in strengthening the quality and use of their career readiness data and provide a roadmap for state leaders to identify strengths and challenges so they can build a plan of action. It takes a comprehensive approach to improving career readiness data quality, one that considers the full career readiness data ecosystem — the broad universe of policies, technology, people and processes that facilitate the collection, analysis, reporting and use of data to support learners along their career pathways. While it is inclusive of Career Technical Education (CTE) data collection and reporting through the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), the tool is broad in scope and brings together the universe of career readiness data across education levels.
The two axes of success that serve as the vision for this tool are quality and equity. A high-quality career readiness data ecosystem enables learners to access high-quality career pathways that allow for successful and equitable transition into high-skill, high-wage and in-demand careers. This idea is illustrated by the theory of action outlined on the following page.
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Using this Tool
This policy benchmark tool is meant to serve as a comprehensive resource to help state leaders at the secondary and postsecondary levels assess current policy and practice and build a strategy for improving the quality and effective use of their career readiness data. As such, it is geared toward a range of users at various stages of expertise and implementation. This tool will allow users to:
- Understand and document the state of their career readiness data ecosystem;
- Leverage a framework for improving the state career readiness data ecosystem;
- Articulate a clear vision for the effective collection and use of career readiness data;
- Identify strengths and areas for improvement within their state career readiness data ecosystem; and
- Create a plan of action to improve the quality and effective use of career readiness data in their states.
This tool is the result of nearly a year of thought partnership and collaboration from a Shared Solutions Workgroup of national and state data experts. It was developed with support from JPMorgan Chase & Co., through the New Skills ready network, and from the ECMC Foundation, through the Advancing Postsecondary CTE Data Quality Initiative.