Mississippi’s LifeTracks system helps to inform policymakers

by Michelle Massie
May 9, 2014

The state of Mississippi is showing how policymakers can use information from the state’s longitudinal data system to learn more about education and workforce program outcomes.

Recently, Mississippi LifeTracks issued its first special report, which was requested by State Senator Angela Hill and featured in an opinion piece published in Southern Mississippi’s Sun Herald newspaper

As the state faces a teacher shortage, Hill requested a report on education majors at Mississippi’s universities.

The report answered the following research questions:

1. How many education majors at Mississippi colleges and universities complete their degrees?

2. Of those who complete an education degree, what percentage is in the teaching profession one year, three years, and five years later?

3. For those who graduate with an education degree and do not become a teacher in Mississippi, what top 20 professions do they enter?

Click here to view the full report.

Mississippi LifeTracks has become a model of a comprehensive statewide longitudinal education and workforce data system.

The system provides information about the performance of Mississippi’s schools, community colleges and universities and offers statistics on Mississippi’s workforce and economy.

Mississippi LifeTracks is operated by the National Strategic Planning & Analysis Research Center (nSPARC) at Mississippi State University. nSPARC is a university-level research center and an arm of the State Workforce Investment Board (SWIB). The longitudinal data system can aggregate data from administrative records that date back to 2005 from all public education and workforce agencies in the state.

Domenico “Mimmo” Parisi is the director of nSPARC and serves as a state data expert for Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC). Parisi spoke at a convening of data experts hosted by WDQC in January. During a Congressional briefing, he offered an example of how Mississippi LifeTracks could be used for purposes of economic development as well.

Parisi told the story of how information provided by the state’s longitudinal data system helped to attract a Yokohama Tire Corporation manufacturing plant to Mississippi. LifeTracks data demonstrated that the state’s workforce could meet the potential 2,000-position demand. 
A public board governs Mississippi LifeTracks. The board is made up of nine state agency directors, one community college president, the head of a pre-K council, and is chaired by the head of the State Workforce Investment Board.

WDQC will continue to identify examples of states using their data systems to answer high-priority policy questions.