News, Policy Brief

The Role of States in Credential Transparency

Credential Engine has published a new policy brief, The Role of States in Credential Transparency, to offer guidance on how state leaders can work towards credential transparency.

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis are putting a premium on upskilling — giving workers new skills to meet new workforce demands — and on greater transparency around the skills and knowledge required for in-demand jobs. To meet this demand, nearly all states have an attainment goal. But most of those systems don’t include vital information about the credentials available within a state, including the credential program’s length and cost; competencies included in the credential, and their links to job skills; pathway information; and earnings and employment outcomes. All of which are essential pieces of information that people, institutions, and organizations need if they are to recover effectively and efficiently.

The current economic climate reinforces the urgency of states to:

    1. Align their educational offerings with the needs of employers;
    2. Create clear pathways among credentials of quality to meet workforce demands; and
    3. Communicate those pathways to both learners and employers

One of the most comprehensive and cost-effective ways to achieve this is through credential transparency — using linked, open and interoperable data formats to shine light on information about all credentials. Credential transparency allows anyone, at any time and anywhere, to access uniform, trusted and timely information about credentials, competencies, quality, pathways and outcomes. That makes it easier for learners and workers to find the right program and for employers to hire the most-qualified workers. And it makes it easier for the state to understand, manage, and ensure the most efficient, effective, and equitable education and training.

Governors, agency leadership, and legislators play an essential role in efforts to increase credential transparency, which will ultimately help states reach completion and workforce goals. Support from these policy leaders is all the more critical in a climate of competing priorities, agendas and budgets, particularly as states continue to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and the related increases in unemployment, poverty, the need for reskilling, and the availability of short-term, online offerings that have little outcome data.

  • Governors can include credential transparency as part of a strategic vision to align education and workforce goals, demonstrating both political and financial support for this statewide effort. A state’s strategic vision should align education and workforce goals, and ensure that alignment of those goals includes strengthening and leveraging a P-20W data infrastructure. Governors have the ability to bring agency leaders together to align data systems and ensure that credential transparency becomes part of a larger agenda for establishing a culture of information and decision-making based in data and evidence.
  • State legislators hold the key to aligning education and workforce strategies by using the power of policymaking to ensure that laws, regulations, and the allocation of funds support credential transparency.
  • Agency leaders in K-12, postsecondary education, workforce training, licensing, and other relevant agencies should work toward uniform adoption of the CTDL to describe every credential issued, funded, or overseen in their state. The use of a common language promotes transparency and comparability of the value of credentials. A common language makes it easier for employers and learners to access vital information about educational opportunities and career pathways.

All stakeholders win when information about credentials can be easily accessed, understood, compared, and connected to other critical education and workforce data. Students will be better able to determine which program best suits their needs. Education and training providers will know what training and skills to include in their curricula. Employers can be clearer in their efforts to recruit candidates for critical positions. And most importantly, states will have a single, common source of comprehensive data about all credentials offered in their jurisdiction to improve their ability to manage and meet postsecondary attainment goals, quality and eligibility reviews, and alignment to economic needs.

This brief is the second in a six-part series that explore the ways that credential transparency can be supported, integrated, and leveraged within states. These series of briefs extend and build upon the recommendations found within the State Roadmap and Action Guide for Transparency stemming from the partnership of 11 state leadership, workforce, education, and/or data advocacy/technical assistance organizations:

Council of Chief State School Officers, Credential Engine, Education Commission of the States, Education Quality Outcomes Standards Board, Education Strategy Group, Data Quality Campaign, National Association of State Workforce Agencies, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Governors Association, National Skills Coalition, and State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.

Read the full Policy Brief.

Read Policy Brief #1—Credential Transparency & P-20W Data Systems: Aligning Education and Employment Information to Meet State Talent Goals