Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC) Launches Effort to Improve Data and Information on Postsecondary Education and Training

By Manuela Ekowo and Neil Ridley

The Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC) recently launched a new website, and issued a new report, Making Workforce Data Work about steps policymakers can take to improve the availability and quality of information about postsecondary education and training. CLASP is one of nine national partners helping to shape the WDQC’s policy agenda, which includes the following proposed improvements at the federal and state levels:

1) Ensure that data systems include information on students in programs beyond basic and higher education, including out-of-school youth, adult workers, and other individuals enrolled in job training, adult education and career and technical education programs;

2) Capture individual achievement of a wide range of industry-recognized credentials (including certificates, certifications, licenses) and related competencies; 

3) Assess employment outcomes by matching student records to employment records for enrollees across all education and workforce programs;

4) Expand the use of labor market information about changing demand for jobs and growth projections, and make it more understandable to students, workers and employers; and

5) Ensure appropriate data access and use, so that privacy-protected data on student outcomes can be made available to education and training institutions to use in assessing their graduates’ outcomes and guide program improvements; to students and workers who want to choose the best programs for their respective career goals; and to policymakers who want to know more about the effectiveness of public education and training policies. (For more information, see the Workforce Data Quality Campaign at

The new website explains how better data can help ensure that publicly funded programs are preparing skilled workers for our changing economy and the ways policymakers, students, workers, business leaders, and educators can use data to make good decisions.

In addition, the website identifies federal and state policy reforms that could improve data quality and highlights model state practices with brief case studies. Among the featured innovations is CLASP’s Alliance for Quality Career Pathways (AQCP), a two-year state-led initiative to identify criteria and indicators that define high-quality career pathway systems and a set of shared performance metrics for measuring and managing their success. The leading career pathway states in the Alliance include Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

AQCP has been identified as a promising model for creating consistent metrics across education and workforce programs to facilitate program alignment and integration into state data systems. The purpose of the Alliance metrics is to provide a shared set of career pathway participant outcome metrics that can be used jointly by partners to measure participant progress and success and to use for continuous improvement of career pathways and programs. Development of these outcome metrics necessarily should begin from the perspective of the career pathway and the participants rather than from the perspective of a particular program, institution, or funding stream. Version 1.0 of the AQCP framework will be available in June 2014.

The WDQC, along with CLASP’s AQCP, is committed to addressing how better data systems are needed to ensure that progress on a career pathway toward credential attainment and employment can be measured and improved in a more streamlined way with the adoption of shared metrics.