Reports Examine State Performance Info

Rachel Zinn
February 9, 2017

Two studies released recently by the U.S. Department of Labor examine "How States Manage Eligible Training Provider Lists" and state efforts on "Using Workforce Data Quality Initiative Databases to Develop and Improve Consumer Report Card Systems."

The reports were written in 2015 and 2014, respectively, so they do not capture much of the state progress achieved since implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). However, some findings echo our more recent experiences with states and provide lessons for future state work.

Forty-six states responded to a survey about state management of eligible training provider lists (ETPL), which include all training providers eligible to receive federal workforce funding. States varied widely in how rigorously they trimmed ETPLs based on performance information, and even how much information providers were required to report. In some states, responsibility for ETPL management was delegated to the local level.

About a third of states do not have a statewide requirement for how often the ETPL is updated, and over one quarter do not restrict ETPLs to programs that provide training for high-wage, high-demand jobs. 

Many states reported challenges with getting reliable performance data on training programs. They often relied on self-reported data from providers, which may be incomplete or inaccurate. WIOA encourages the use of Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage records to calculate employment outcomes, but survey respondents cited challenges in accessing this information. The Department of Labor has been working with states to improve data access and reporting capabilities.

The report also noted a disconnect between training program information that states make publicly available and the information they use to determine eligibility for funding. Of the 26 states that made public information available, five did not use the same information for public reporting and eligibility.

Similarly, the report about consumer scorecards found that few state workforce data systems are used to manage ETPLs.

WDQC's parent organization, National Skills Coalition, recommends that the Department of Labor encourage governors to manage ETPLs and consumer reporting so that these two activities utilize reliable, consistent data. We also urge training providers and state officials to collaborate on performance reporting so that outcome information is based on wage record matching done at the state level. 

The scorecard report identifies the lack of for-profit training provider information in state data systems as the greatest impediment to creating comprehensive scorecards that are effective in helping prospective students choose between a range of training options. 

The report concludes with recommendations for the Department of Labor, including "a coordinated effort to encourage state support of [scorecards] by systematically publicizing their value to state-level policymakers." WDQC plans to assist with this effort by continuing to mobilize advocates on state scorecards and other policies outlined in our Data Policy Toolkit.