Credential Engine works with partners large and small across the education and workforce spectrum. What brings us all together is a shared vision to build a transparent credential marketplace in order to bring the clear and comprehensive data students, workers, employers, educators, nonprofits, and policymakers need to make informed decisions about education and career pathways. Our Better Know a Partner series dives deeply into one partnership to reveal what challenges they’re facing in the current credential landscape and how they plan to be part of the solution.
About our Partner:
Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) is the coordinating board for Kansas’ public postsecondary institutions; it also administers student financial aid, adult education, career and technical education programs, and authorizes the state’s operation of private proprietary and out-of-state institutions. Kansas is one of 14 states and regions working with Credential Engine to improve transparency within and across state lines. The Sunflower State aims to utilize this data so it can empower Kansans to make more informed credentialing decisions based on employer demand and ultimately help local families thrive.
Last week, KBOR published critical credential information on 100 percent of the state’s public postsecondary certificates and degrees to the Credential Registry. As the first state to use an API – a publishing method that directly connects the Registry to Kansas’s own internal data systems – we asked project lead Nathan Snyder, Reporting and Research Specialist, to share more about how they implemented the project.
Q: Why did the Kansas Board of Regents choose to use an API to publish information to the Registry?
Two clear advantages were ease and efficiency. Since we had already developed a few APIs under our Statewide Longitudinal Data System and Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants to share data with other agencies, we were prepared for this type of project. We also felt that mapping via an API would create a better long-term solution while reducing redundancy, removing human error, and enabling real-time updates of our data in the Registry as we update our own internal databases.
Q: Tell us about your experience. How did it go?
As with all things, there are ups and downs. We found that going through the process of matching our data to the CTDL was helpful in allowing us to think about some of our priorities and is inspiring us to collect additional data to assist in other reporting. Also, we have found that presenting the data from the Registry has helped institutions examine their own data and make a few changes that we think will benefit users.
The two biggest challenges for us were getting the legal issues settled and getting institutions’ accounts created. Since we were the 3rd-party publisher, we needed all our institutions to agree to both Credential Engine’s user agreement and our own KBOR terms. Once the legal questions were resolved, reaching out to the institutions and asking them to create their accounts was another mountain to summit. Our CEO reached out to various institutional leaders to get names of those who would work with us on this project and it took some back and forth to get all the institutions on board. Though it was a process to get everything set up, it should be relatively seamless going forward.
Q: What did you learn through this process?
The process of getting data into the Registry has reminded us of how difficult it is to align data and interests across all our institutions. Because part of our interest in this project was to present our programs with an apples-to-apples comparison, we had to determine the way certain data elements would be calculated or presented to be consistent across institutions which took time and coordination.
Q: What should other states know and do in order to successfully implement this work?
The number one thing to prepare before starting this project is to be ready to include every department. We worked with someone from every part of our office to be able to get this data published before the initial grant was over. We understood that only by working cross-departmentally would we be able to get both the data we needed but also the buy-in to ultimately use that data to transform how KSBOR collects and connects our education and training data.
Also, the regular calls with Credential Engine staff helped not only keep us on task and focus our work, but it also helped ensure that any tasks that Credential Engine needed to finish progressed as quickly as possible. Another thing that we found helpful was to compare the data already found on Credential Finder to what we were expecting to publish. It helped us explore what we could easily calculate or collect as well as start thinking about additional phases of the project.
Q: Now that Kansas has completed this round of publishing, what are your plans to scale up and capture new types of data as well as utilize the Registry?
Our focus, for now, is identifying those things that would be useful for Registry users that would also assist us in other reporting and parts of our own website. For example, we do not currently store program accreditation information in our database, though we publish it in a few places and it would be highly useful information for our students. We have already begun work on identifying these accrediting agencies. There are a few other things that we wish were ready to publish to the Registry, like additional cost information, and we look forward to working with Credential Engine and our institutions on how best to get richer data there and maintain it.