Federal Solutions

Assistance and Incentives

The federal government has several important roles in improving education and workforce data: financially supporting data systems, providing technical assistance, and incentivizing states and programs to build better data systems and use data more effectively. The Obama administration and its agencies, especially the Departments of Education and Labor, should work with Congress to:

  • Make data expectations clear and consistent across pending reauthorizations. Several major federal laws that govern a broad array of education and workforce programs include the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and those that are due for reauthorization: the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, and the Higher Education Act (HEA). Having the same data reporting definitions allows programs to work together more effectively to achieve their mutual goals. 
  • Redesign federal support for states’ development of aligned education and workforce data systems. Some states report that federal technical assistance on state longitudinal data systems is not cohesive and does not encourage interagency collaboration at the state level. The federal government should reconsider its grant structure and think about a new approach to technical assistance.
  • Encourage cross-state data sharing by rewarding states that enter into sharing agreements. At the same time, federal agencies should explore whether national data matching platforms are appropriate to help states and institutions access more complete data.