California urged to take user-focused approach to longitudinal education data

The advocacy group California Competes published a report pushing the state to embrace user-centered design principles.
California Governor Gavin Newsom
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (Patrick T. Fallon / Getty Images)

California’s forthcoming longitudinal education and workforce data system must be designed with real users in mind, the nonprofit workforce and education access advocacy group California Competes advised in a report on Monday. 

In its report, the group shared its experience of building the California Postsecondary to Prosperity Dashboard — a website that connects state-level education, employment and quality of life data — and outlined how it could serve as a model for state-led education and workforce data projects like California’s.

The California Department of Education is currently working with 10 other state agencies to connect K-12, higher education and workforce data to create the Cradle-to-Career Data System, or C2C.

California Competes says in its report that its dashboard used user-centered design principles, which could also be applied by California. User-centered design principles include gathering information about users, their goals, needs and requirements, developing products to meet these needs and evaluating and iterating the product in response to user feedback.


“It is essential that the C2C team continues soliciting feedback from users even after data tools have been released because user feedback can significantly enhance data quality and functionality,” the report reads. “User-centered design principles emphasize the significance of user feedback and engagement, and this cycle of interaction should be an ongoing process rather than a one-time event.”

California is one of just a small number of states that do not have post-secondary education data linked to workforce information or K-12 educational data. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation in 2021 establishing the C2C system to remedy this.

“It’s on us to make it easy for students to navigate education and job choices,” Newsom said in a May 2022 news release providing updates on the system’s progress. “The Cradle-to-Career System provides the data and support infrastructure that will make it possible for every student in the state to thrive.”

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