Photo: Daniel Thigpen
Kim Minugh an English teacher at Encina Preparatory High School in Sacramento touches base with her yearbook students remotely.

Ending speculation as to how much California will invest in building an ambitious “cradle-to-career” data system, Gov. Gavin Newson is proposing to spend $15 million for the next phase of creating a data system that will shed light on effective strategies contributing to student success and to provide useful tools to students trying to plan their education careers.

The proposal follows a year in which over a dozen state agencies, many data experts and representatives of every key education sector in California developed a blueprint for the data system. Many researchers and advocates have been calling for such a data system for years, and it is a central element in the pledge Newsom made when he ran for governor to create a “cradle-to-career” system of education in California.

The amount Newsom is proposing is along the lines of what was recommended in a report he received last month from the workgroup that is overseeing the project.

Thomas Vu, vice president for policy for the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities that represents private nonprofit colleges, welcomed the state’s investment, which comes on top of $10 million in state funds already invested in the planning process. Vu, a member of the workgroup, said $15 million would see the state through its first year of implementation, but it “won’t be enough to see it through the full year of implementation, as it will take 4 to 5 years before the entire thing is fleshed out.”

In fact, Vu said, Newsom had “challenged the work group to think big and broad, and for California to be the leading state on this.”

During the first year beginning next July, planners will establish a governing structure for the data system and create a website and communication materials, among other tasks. Multiple state agencies and education institutions, including the California Department of Education, community colleges, the University of California, the California State University, the Employment Development Department and California’s Health and Human Services Agency will “tag and load” data into the cloud, match records and build a data warehouse.

By the end of the first year, data from K-12 and public postsecondary institutions will be linked and up and running, Vu said, but it will take several years to have other data points included in the system, including the private non-profit colleges his organization represents. Eventually the system will gather data on 160 different variables, with over 400 million records.

Most states have already set up some form of data system to track student progress across education systems. But the summary of Newsom’s proposed budget anticipates that California’s data system “will lead the nation in multiple ways.”

“Because we are a late adopter, we are both trying to catch up, and we can leap frog over others,” said Patrick Perry, a workgroup member who is chief of policy, research and data for the California Student Aid Commission. “The hope is to be able to build live tools and apps that students and parents can navigate, and make it easier when students are transitioning between education systems.”

According to the summary of Newsom’s proposal, California’s data system will be distinctive because it will include design principles, allowing it to be “future proofed” against becoming outdated technically. It will also reflect a “whole child” approach by including education and workforce data along with data from health and social services agencies.

Newsom also is proposing to spend another $3.8 million to continue work on CaliforniaColleges.edu, a website designed to provide information to help high school students get information about what they need to get into college, financial aid opportunities and career guidance, as well as to assist college students once they are enrolled. It also includes a range of resources for parents and teachers. The website will eventually be integrated into the “cradle-to-career” data system.

John Rogers, a professor of education at UCLA, said that the state’s investment in the data system will be useful as long as the end result is more than just a repository of data, but that it will “create forms of public engagement that ensure that the data will be used to enhance public understanding and participation.”

In fact, the new data system is designed to be useful not just to researchers and state policy analysts, but also to parents and students.

“The benefit of being one of the last states is to see what other states have done, and how we can do more than they have,” said Vu. “We have the technology to do more, at a greater scale and at less cost. The goal is to make this robust enough to help students and families plan for their educational futures.”

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  1. Cassandra Edney 1 week ago1 week ago

    Is there any information about what incentives for new teachers? Any news about bypassing the CSET in order to get the credential??

    Replies

    • Dr. Bill Conrad 1 week ago1 week ago

      Actually, we are going to make the CSET more challenging for candidates to become teachers in California. We are beginning to recognize the importance of having qualified teachers in the system as our democracy depends on it. There is a reason why 80 million Americans are so math, science, ELA, and Civics illiterate. The K-12 education system played a role in this crisis. We cannot afford to adopt the asinine Trumpian clarion call of … Read More

      Actually, we are going to make the CSET more challenging for candidates to become teachers in California. We are beginning to recognize the importance of having qualified teachers in the system as our democracy depends on it. There is a reason why 80 million Americans are so math, science, ELA, and Civics illiterate. The K-12 education system played a role in this crisis.

      We cannot afford to adopt the asinine Trumpian clarion call of “Stop the Testing.” End the rage against the thermometers!

      We need to improve and make our assessments more challenging. Making it easier to become a teacher is not the answer.

      We will be making the CSET even more rigorous.

      We will also be moving the rigor needle on the RICA.

      It is not enough to have caring teachers. We need highly qualified and competent teachers.

      Onward.

  2. Dr. Bill Conrad 1 week ago1 week ago

    Educational leaders have spent many years trying to wear the mantle of data-driven warriors. The reality though is that the leaders really do not want to visualize system-wide student achievement data that is not so flattering to them as it will require them to undertake monumental transformational changes of the K-12 education system. Better to avoid the data, blame the victims, and substitute cherry picked special case data as a proxy for a failed system. I … Read More

    Educational leaders have spent many years trying to wear the mantle of data-driven warriors. The reality though is that the leaders really do not want to visualize system-wide student achievement data that is not so flattering to them as it will require them to undertake monumental transformational changes of the K-12 education system. Better to avoid the data, blame the victims, and substitute cherry picked special case data as a proxy for a failed system.

    I have worked as a data expert in K-12 education in California and across the country and have seen these truths played out over and over again.

    The deeper issues of racism within the system are much more challenging to deal with, because they may endanger white entitlement within the system, protected strongly but quietly by local school boards. Difficult conversations about the reallocation of precious resources like high quality teachers to schools with children of color are taboo. The superintendents know where their bread is buttered. They will never acknowledge, let alone touch this third rail of K-12 education.

    Moving the school district needle on academic achievement, especially for our children of color, is a monumental task. Superintendents understand this. The structural racism within the system mitigates any real ability to change outcomes for students of color. Remember that the system allocates the most novice teachers to the schools with children of color – a racist tactic.

    Superintendents, local school boards, and teacher unions do this because the white families will not give up their qualified teachers to send them to work in inner city schools. These white parents would never accept unprepared charity teachers from the Teach for America program. It just won’t happen. So, the district leaders do what they are allowed to do, which is provide after school programs funded by monies from the federal grants or work with the Teach for America program to provide young warm bodies to their schools with children of color.

    Leaders in the K-12 education system do not have the intestinal fortitude to address these fundamental racist root cause problems and so student academic performance will continue to demonstrate poor performance.

    It will take an uprising by the children and families to catalyze change within the K-12 education system. Fancy data systems will definitely not carry the day.