What would it look like if North Carolina had data to track how children engage in early education, participate in public schools and progress on to college and/or a career? Several state agencies and data experts are working together to make this possible.
The Birth through Third Grade (B-3) Interagency Council met in December to discuss how North Carolina is developing data systems that integrate student data from early childhood to workforce. The Government Data Analytics Center (GDAC) plays a key role in this work, providing leadership among state agencies around data integration, reporting and analytics. Three longitudinal data projects supported by GDAC include:
- The NC Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS), which integrates early childhood education, health and social services data from participating agencies for children birth through age eight. ECIDS is administered by the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
- The NC SchoolWorks System (NCSW), which links data from early learning to workforce. NCSW is administered by the NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI).
- The Common Follow-Up System (CFS), which collects NC workforce and education data. CFS is administered by the Department of Commerce, Labor and Economic Analysis Division (LEAD).
Part of GDAC’s work also involves developing the NC Educational Longitudinal Data System (ELDS). ELDS is a “system of systems” designed to contain individual-level, student and workforce data from all levels of education and the State’s workforce system, including from DHHS, DPI, UNC System, NC Community College System, Department of Labor and other state agencies. Ensuring early childhood data are included in the ELDS is an important piece of this initiative.
The NC ECIDS is the primary source of early childhood data for the state. It collects, integrates, maintains, stores and reports information from various cross-sector early childhood programs such as NC Pre-K, Head Start and Early Head Start, Early Intervention Part B and Part C, child care, and public primary education (K-3). ECIDS is able to create distinct, unduplicated counts of which NC children are being served in participating early childhood programs and where. It is in the process of being improved and expanded to ensure data is accessible and provides the best support to a wide range of data users.
ECIDS contributes data to the NC Early Childhood Action Plan (ECAP), which includes over 50 measures that track progress towards ten goals for 2025. ECAP measures are used to inform state policies and programs, track data through public-facing data dashboards, contribute to county level reports, and support advocacy.
The NC Early Childhood Data Advisory Council, led by the NC Early Childhood Foundation in partnership with DHHS, is also working to improve the quality and scope of early childhood data in the state. This includes prioritizing current gaps in data and creating strategies to address them. In 2019, the Council created a data development strategy and implementation will begin in 2020.
Work is currently underway to integrate ECIDS into the NC Educational Longitudinal Data System, along with NC SchoolWorks and other systems. In the future, the ELDS hopes to capture data for NC children from early childhood, pre-K to high school, post-secondary colleges and universities, and the workforce. This will help to ensure early childhood investments are having their greatest impact.