California Governor Gavin Newsom announced earlier this month that the state has reached a major milestone in developing a “cradle-to-career” data system to improve education effectiveness, equity, and access. That milestone? More than one billion independently validated data points from California’s K-12, higher education, social service, and workforce systems that are now being integrated into the Cradle-to-Career Data System. This wide range of data from multiple sources will be publicly accessible, allowing the public, researchers, and lawmakers to access detailed information on education and career outcomes, workforce trends, and more — broken down by race, gender, ability, and geography. The two-year design and engagement process for the Cradle-to-Career Data System was led by WestEd.

“This milestone is an important step towards a comprehensive data system that unites disconnected data from across sectors, provides key insights for system improvements, and empowers Californians to take data into their own hands,” said Kathy Booth, Project Director for Educational Data and Policy at WestEd. “Linking data from multiple sources will help policymakers, community leaders, educators, and others to highlight gaps and identify opportunities throughout students’ education experiences as well as develop data-informed practices and policies to support students’ success in school and life. Importantly, the Cradle-to-Career Data System gives students, parents, and communities the ability to make data-driven, informed decisions about their educational futures.”

The WestEd team led the planning process for designing the data system so it could be publicly accessible, brokered the cooperation of the various agencies who own the data, helped ensure data security and privacy, and facilitated the creation of a governance structure which supports community access to and use of the data system.

WestEd’s Data Integration Support Center (DISC) was a key player in the development of the Cradle-to-Career Data System. Launched in 2022, DISC provides public agencies with no cost, comprehensive technical assistance to support the development of integrated data systems that also ensure data privacy and security.

The Cradle-to-Career Data System will be the largest and best-integrated database of its kind in the nation, but it should not be the last. To facilitate other states creating similar data systems to support academic and career success for all their residents, WestEd helped build a website that offers guidance for creating a roadmap to build similar systems. The site, P20W+, includes a survey to identify where a state stands with regard to building such a system, along with tools and resources to help interest holders build a roadmap toward integrating their data systems and creating secure access to useful information.