Minnesota longitudinal data system exploring COVID's effects on pre-k to workforce journey

Minnesota’s longitudinal data system will help leaders and educators understand the pandemic's effects, from pre-K to workforce.

Minnesota's longitudinal data system integrates early childhood education, K-12, postsecondary and workforce data to create a panoramic view of education outcomes. The merging of systems results in data linking and improves the overall data quality and performance of the P-20 Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System (SLEDS) and Early Childhood Longitudinal Data System (ECLDS).

Its P20W data warehouse encompasses the longitudinal life of an individual from birth, early childhood, elementary and secondary education up to and through higher education and employment, including the various paths people take through education to employment. The state made additional enhancements to the system in 2020 to support forecasted data source expansion, including:

  • Improvements to the linking process that provide more accurate reporting and, ultimately, more accurate decision making. The process also runs faster, allowing SLEDS and ECLDS to publish reports more quickly.
  • New dashboard reports that allow data coordinators direct access to view, manipulate and investigate their data. They can more easily recognize trends and communicate them to the appropriate leaders.

The new capabilities provide the ability to synthesize data and turn it into meaningful stories that drive effective policy and programs focused on helping Minnesota children, families and communities thrive.

Using the longitudinal data system to understand the pandemic's effects

The ability to better spot trends and communicate findings has been particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, Michigan used its SLDS to help connect homebound students with food benefits. According to the SLEDS 2020 annual report, Minnesota is using the ECLDS and SLEDS to explore many topics questions about the pandemic, including:

Pathways: The movement of individuals between K-12, higher education, and the workforce

  • How were high school graduation rates affected by the pandemic?
  • How have college enrollment patterns for high school graduates changed during the pandemic?
  • How many 2019-2020 high school graduates were able to find work beginning in June 2020?

Progress: The benchmarks or transition points individuals meet or fail to meet

  • What are the educational and earnings outcomes of students who delayed college enrollment during the pandemic?
  • How did the pandemic affect first-year wages post-college for 2019-2020 graduates? What are the long-term repercussions to this year’s economic downturn?

Predictors: The characteristics or patterns that help explain which individuals succeed and which do not

  • Which college graduates will perform better or worse beginning July 2020 in terms of employment by industry, full-time year-round employment and wages? How do these outcomes compare to previous graduates?
  • What is the impact of college access and success programs on college enrollment as compared to students not enrolled in a program this year?

Performance: The alignment of education and workforce for individual success

  • What are the labor market outcomes for college graduates by gender and race/ethnicity post-2020?
  • What are the employment outcomes of bachelor’s degree holders compared to those holding certificates
    or associate degrees over three, five, 10 and 15 years after graduation?

The results of this research will inform policy and education decisions for years to come, from the state level to the classroom. The ability to answer questions about the youngest learners all the way up to the labor market performance of young adults is only possible with a robust longitudinal data system.

Statewide longitudinal data systems that meet the needs of students and their communities are an essential part of a strong educational framework. Check out the white paper, From cradle to career: A modern SLDS, to learn how an SLDS supports policies, programs and decisions that drive toward an excellent academic experience for every student. https://www.sas.com/en/whitepapers/from-cradle-to-career-slds-112071.html


About Author

Katrina Miller

Education Industry Consultant, SAS State & Local Government Practice

Katrina utilizes her experience in K-12 and higher education policy to support SAS EVAAS for K-12 in the educational community. She previously worked with the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, where she supported state efforts to use data to improve teacher and leader preparation for all students, including students with disabilities. Katrina holds a bachelor’s degree in communication and master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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