New Grants Promote Data

by Rachel Zinn
April 16, 2014

The Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant solicitation released today by the U.S. Department of Labor uses several strategies to encourage colleges to collect and use data on student outcomes.

TAACCCT grants will award $450 million to higher education institutions to support sector-based training programs no longer than two years. This is the fourth round of grants.

New this round, applicants may request extra funding if they propose to: (1) advance state career pathway systems; (2) improve statewide data collection, integration and use; or (3) create nationally recognized competencies and credentials.

The grant solicitation echoes several of WDQC’s recommendations for state data systems, including:

  • Adopt standard definitions for reporting on all students, including those in non-credit and adult education courses.
  • Capture data on a variety of credentials that have recognized value for employers.
  • Use labor market information to make sure that training programs and student choices are aligned with regional employer demand.
  • Incorporate student data into the state longitudinal data system so it can be linked with other information to enhance analytic capacity.
  • Explore using cross-state data sharing agreements (like WRIS2) to get more accurate information on student outcomes.

The solicitation also requires applicants to explain how funding to improve statewide data would be used in conjunction with other federal funding received through different grant programs, such as the Workforce Data Quality Initiative.

In addition to the opportunity to request extra data funding, all TAACCCT applicants will be scored on their ability to track student outcome data, including post-program employment, and how they will monitor and use this information to improve programs.

The solicitation maintains a requirement from earlier rounds for consortia applicants to submit a plan for creating scorecards that show program outcomes such as graduation rates, employment rates and average earnings. These scorecards are intended to help prospective students determine which programs can help them meet their career goals.

Finally, all applicants must submit a plan for evaluating their programs. These evaluations can use data to go beyond performance outcomes, helping colleges get a deeper understanding of how their programs work and what their true impact is on participants.