Peoples’ pathways to success are increasingly varied. But no matter the path, individuals make choices that shape their future options and opportunities — and they shouldn’t have to make these decisions in the dark. Students, families, career changers, and everyone in between deserve information that can point them down the pathway that gets them where they want to go. Leaders in Tennessee have the tools to provide Tennesseans with the information they need to make informed decisions and achieve their goals, but they haven’t done it yet.
Data that is securely linked across K-12, higher education, and the workforce exists in Tennessee through its longitudinal data system, P20 Connect TN. Right now, this system is underused. With timely information about meaningful pathways through education and into jobs, leaders can focus on improving their services and Tennesseans can make the best decisions for themselves and their communities. School districts, higher education institutions, regional workforce boards, and individuals across Tennessee need this information, but it is not readily available to them. This must change.
Despite the value of this resource, most Tennesseans — even ones who are education and workforce leaders — don’t know that P20 Connect TN even exists nor how valuable the information in it would be to their work. In the absence of a statewide data solution, some local leaders have taken it upon themselves to develop their own workarounds, spending valuable time and resources. For example, Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) and Nashville State Community College (NSCC) established a data-sharing student success initiative that allows leaders to see the barriers students face in transitioning from high school to college and provide targeted supports. MNPS and NSCC’s resources could be further amplified to benefit students with access to the relevant information in P20 Connect TN.
State leaders in Tennessee, in both the legislative and executive branches, must act to ensure that local leaders and individuals have secure, useful information. Tennessee should prioritize transparency of the information in P20 Connect TN, ensure that the data is user-friendly, and help districts, postsecondary institutions, and other student-serving organizations build their own capacity to access and use information. By doing so, Tennessee can lead the nation in using data as one tool to improve education and workforce opportunities for Tennesseans.
For more about how Tennessee can help connect every person to the information and support they need to achieve their goals, view the new infographic from the Data Quality Campaign and SCORE.
Brennan McMahon Parton is vice President of Policy and Advocacy of Data Quality Campaign.