State Policy Briefs
Over the next decade, employers will need to fill millions of jobs that require higher-order thinking skills, specialized knowledge, and education or training beyond high school. For that reason, many states are aiming for 65% of residents to hold high-quality postsecondary credentials by 2025. Hitting that goal depends on whether states can close gaps in educational attainment, align what’s taught with labor market needs, increase racial and ethnic diversity educational attainment and presence in key industries, and have the best data possible to inform decision-making.
Seven state leadership organizations and five workforce, education and data advocacy/technical assistance experts have come together to coauthor a series of Policy Briefs that build awareness, understanding, and guidance for how state policy can integrate credential transparency into education and workforce development strategies.
The task at hand for this partnership is to ensure that policy creates systems for these credentials to be easily accessible, understood, comparable, connected to other critical education and workforce data, and communicated so that they serve everyone. These Policy Briefs stem from the State Roadmap and Action Guide for Transparency which helps state policymakers to take the inefficiencies out of the labor marketplace and provide more efficient and equitable access to actionable information through the prioritization of credential transparency.
Members of the State Policy Partnership include:
- Advance CTE
- Council of Chief State School Officers
- Credential Engine
- Data Quality Campaign
- Education Commission of the States
- Education Quality Outcomes Standards Board
- Education Strategy Group
- National Association of State Workforce Agencies
- National Conference of State Legislatures
- National Governors Association
- National Skills Coalition
- State Higher Education Executive Officers Association
Our nation is confronted with the daunting task of rebuilding the economy and creating opportunities for individuals who have been impacted by health and equity crises. Achieving this will require a system that gives policymakers, education and training providers, and opportunity seekers access to data systems that make information about credentials more searchable, comparable, and actionable — what we call credential transparency.
This brief outlines the actions state policymakers can take to make credential transparency part of their state’s education, workforce, and economic development strategies. It showcases the ways credential transparency connects to and augments current state policy priorities; provides examples of specific state policies that support credential transparency; highlights opportunities and actions state leaders can take; and suggests actions and funding streams to support credential transparency.
Making Information About Credentials More Actionable Through Increased Transparency and Quality Assurance
Many states are already collecting data on credentials from degree-granting and non-degree-granting providers. But most state leaders desire quality information to improve decision making from the State Capitol to the classroom and to the kitchen table of individual opportunity seekers. Quality information is timely, comparable, reliable, and useful. Decision makers at all levels require quality data around job opportunities, skill and knowledge demands, and which credentials and pathways to pursue. Providing decision makers at all levels with frameworks to describe the attributes of a quality credential is one that requires partnership across state policymakers and with other stakeholders such as employers, education and training providers, advocates, and accreditors.
The value of credential transparency rises exponentially when it includes assurances of quality. Several organizations, including Education Quality Outcomes Standards Board (EQOS), Education Strategy Group (ESG), and National Skills Coalition (NSC), have been developing frameworks to contribute to the conversations around credentials’ value, quality, and transparency.
Credential Transparency and better credential data can help state leaders more efficiently and effectively work toward their educational attainment and workforce goals while also informing how to dismantle systems that have created the inequities we see today. This Policy Brief explores how access to better credential information can be a useful tool for equity.
States, policymakers, and leaders should actively work to eliminate barriers that hinder the ability for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) to take advantage of their options. Credential transparency can help uncover: Who lacks access to opportunity and why? Which populations have and are being underserved by education and training systems? How have state policies served to limit access? Which populations have been tracked into differential credentials and why? How can the credential attainment, employment, and earning prospects be improved for BIPOC?
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.
Most states lack vital information about the credentials available within their boundaries, 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.
Leadership matters. 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.
Credential Transparency & P-20W Data Systems:
Aligning Education and Employment Information to Meet State Talent Goals
This Policy Brief builds atop the State Roadmap and Action Guide to Transparency to motivate states to see the benefits of a connected, open-access data network, and understand how we can all work to better align our data to aid in decision making.
Over the next decade, employers will need to fill millions of jobs that require higher-order thinking skills, specialized knowledge, and education or training beyond high school. Doing so depends on whether states can close gaps in educational attainment, align what’s taught with labor market needs and increase racial and ethnic diversity in key industries. States can have better workforce and education data by aligning P-20W data systems and adopting new technology that enables the data to be analyzed and made actionable.