Harnessing State Longitudinal Data Systems to Assess Career and Technical Education Outcomes

November 2018
three students listening to a lecture

Statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS) contain individual record-level data on public school students that can be used to assess their progress and outcomes in and across education levels. Moreover, when student-level identifiers can be linked to national data clearinghouses and state unemployment insurance wage record systems, relationships can be established among students’ K–12 educational preparation, postsecondary enrollment, in-state labor market outcomes, and attainment of industry-recognized credentials, transforming SLDS into comprehensive, cross-sector P20/workforce data systems.

Unfortunately, transferring existing career and technical education (CTE) data elements into states’ larger SLDS is not a simple task. Since states’ CTE data systems were not designed with SLDS in mind, linking records without adequate documentation and controls can create problems. Consequently, until CTE elements are fully integrated into SLDS, education researchers will need to merge education data from multiple sources.

This paper examines the potential role SLDS can play in providing a more complete picture of education and workforce development for CTE researchers and stakeholders.

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