Business Rules

Common standards for the collection of specific data elements that ensure quality, consistency and comparability.

Career Pathway

A progressive sequence of educational experiences that is aligned to a high-skill, high-wage, in-demand occupation; reinforces academic learning with related work-based learning experiences; and culminates in a recognized postsecondary credential of value.

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.

Career Technical Education (CTE)

An educational option that provides learners with the knowledge, experiences and skills they need to be prepared for college and careers. CTE gives purpose to learning by emphasizing real-world skills and practical knowledge within a selected career focus. Students in CTE programs and programs of study take specialized sequences of courses that provide rigorous academic and technical knowledge and skills at the secondary and postsecondary/adult levels and align with high-skill, high-wage and in-demand career opportunities. 

CIP (Classification of Instructional Programs)

A taxonomic scheme that supports the accurate tracking and reporting of fields of study and program completion activity. CIP was originally developed by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

CLNA (Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment)

A major component of the local application process used by eligible local recipients to apply for Perkins V funding. The CLNA must address the following: review of learner performance data; how CTE programs offered by the eligible local recipient are of sufficient size, scope and quality and are aligned to labor market needs; progress toward implementing programs of study; the recruitment, retention and training of CTE professionals; and how the local eligible recipient will make progress toward ensuring equal access to CTE for all learners. The assessment needs to be completed for initial eligibility for Perkins V funding and then must be updated once every two years thereafter.

Core Elements

Describe at a high level the policies and practices that enable a high-quality career readiness data ecosystem.

CTE Concentrator

As defined in Perkins V, a postsecondary/adult student who earns 12 credits in a single CTE program or program of study or completes a CTE program if that CTE program encompasses fewer than 12 credits or a secondary student who completes at least two courses in a single CTE program or program of study.

CTE Participant

As defined in Perkins V, an individual at either the secondary or postsecondary level who completes at least one CTE course in a CTE program or program of study. 

Data Sharing Agreement

A formal document that establishes the processes, expectations, security measures and timeline for the exchange of data between two or more entities.

Early Warning System

A tool that leverages research-based indicators to identify students at risk of failing to meet key education milestones such as reading at grade level, on-time graduation and college readiness/persistence (see American Institutes for Research).


Fairness in outcomes; creating just outcomes; giving everyone what they need to be successful; acknowledging everyone’s unique situation and addressing historic and current-day systemic barriers. (Contrast with equality, where each individual is treated the same.) (Definition adapted from Shorter-Gooden Consulting). 

ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act)

A federal law that funds K-12 education throughout the nation and emphasizes equitable access to education, high standards and accountability. ESSA both encouraged and allowed states to incorporate CTE into their plans through an emphasis on a “well-rounded education,” which includes CTE programs and activities, and through the opportunity to embed CTE and career readiness measures within state accountability systems.

FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)

A federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education (see U.S. Department of Education).


In the context of this tool, refers to all CTE delivery systems at the secondary and postsecondary levels, including schools, school districts, colleges and technical centers.


A joint federal and state program that, together with the Children’s Health Insurance Program, provides health coverage to more than 72.5 million Americans, including children, pregnant women, parents, seniors and individuals with disabilities (see Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services). 

O*NET (Occupational Information Network)

A database of hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors for almost 1,000 occupations covering the entire U.S. economy. It is supported by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration.

Opportunity Gap

An observable disparity in access and/or outcomes for a specific subgroup or special population. These gaps are due to systemic inequities, implicit biases, stereotypes and outright discrimination based on group identities. 

P20W Data System

A statewide longitudinal data system that connects learner-level data across early learning, K-12 education, postsecondary education and the workforce.

SCED (School Courses for the Exchange of Data)

A voluntary, common classification system for prior-to-secondary and secondary school courses maintained by a working group of federal, state and local education agency representatives. SCED is based on a five-digit course code that provides a basic structure for classifying course content (see National Center for Education Statistics).

Section 508 Compliant

Refers to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires access to electronic and information technology provided by the federal government. Federal agencies must ensure that this technology is accessible to employees and members of the public with disabilities to the extent it does not pose an “undue burden.” Section 508 speaks to various means for disseminating information, including computers, software and electronic office equipment (see U.S. Access Board).

SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

A federal program that provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of needy families so they can purchase healthy food and move toward self-sufficiency (see U.S. Department of Agriculture). 

SOC (Standard Occupational Classification)

A federal statistical standard used by federal agencies to classify workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating or disseminating data (see U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). 

Statewide Longitudinal Data System

A statewide data system that warehouses longitudinal data for students across two or more of the following learner levels: early learning, K-12, postsecondary and workforce. State data systems that collect, retain and maintain data from multiple agencies in a centralized warehouse are known as centralized systems, and state data systems in which data from participating agencies is linked either temporarily or on an as-needed basis are federated systems (see Education Commission of the States).

Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V)

Signed into law in July 2018, reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins). It is the primary federal investment to states and discretionary grantees for the improvement of secondary and postsecondary CTE programs and programs of study across the nation. The purpose of Perkins V is to develop more fully the academic knowledge and technical and employability skills of secondary education students and postsecondary education students who elect to enroll in CTE programs and programs of study.


Detail the components of effective policy and practice within each core element.

SWIS (State Wage Interchange System)

A data sharing tool jointly managed by the Department of Education and the Department of Labor that allows states to exchange anonymized employment and earnings data — wage data, for short — with other states (see National Skills Coalition). 

TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)

A federal program designed to help needy families achieve self-sufficiency. States receive block grants to design and operate programs that accomplish one of the purposes of the TANF program (see U.S. Department of Health & Human Services). 

WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act)

A federal law that supports workforce development activities and funds job training programs for displaced adult and youth workers. WIOA emphasizes greater coordination between workforce development and CTE through aligned definitions, the requirement that postsecondary CTE be a local infrastructure partner, and the option to do a combined state plan that meets the planning requirements for WIOA’s core programs and at least one other federal program, among other provisions.