Equity, Governance, State Advocacy, Trust

Legislative Update: What We’re Watching This Session

Legislative Update: What We’re Watching This Session

It’s January, and that means state legislatures across the country have reconvened for their 2022 sessions and we have started our annual tracking of state data bills. This year team DQC will be sharing themes and insights from our analysis of active state legislation governing the use of data across the early childhood to workforce continuum.  

The recent nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases is a stark reminder that legislators are still governing in the midst of a pandemic. Data is a critical tool for recovery, and we’ll be paying close attention to the ways state legislators are proposing to use data to address the needs of students and communities who continue to face the consequences of intermittent school closures and an uncertain postsecondary and workforce landscape. Specifically, we’ll be watching states’ policy conversations about promising strategies we picked up on last year, including bills that would: 

  • Shine a light on inequities.  Continued disruptions to in-person learning can be devastating for students and families, and have a disproportionate impact on groups of students who have been historically underserved by the education system. Strategies to address such equity concerns were prominent across state education data bills in 2021, including bills that would require state agencies to collect and publish data that shines a light on the experiences and needs of specific groups of students. This year we’ll be watching for those legislative strategies that would create the conditions for decisionmakers to put data to work to address inequities and support students who need it most. 
  • Make information available to students navigating education transitions. Since 2020, seven states (AR, AZ, KS, KY, ME, TN, and WV)  have enacted “Right to Know” laws that would require data to be made available to high school students about in-state postsecondary options and outcomes. Putting data in the hands of students to navigate pathways has been a clear data priority for state legislators during the pandemic. We’ll be watching for similar policy proposals to include thoughtful approaches to transparency that prioritize the needs of these student users. 
  • Establish formal governance policies that codify decisionmaking about linked data. Last year, California enacted landmark legislation that established a Governing Board for the state’s new Cradle-to-Career Data System charged with ensuring the system serves Californians. As improving school to workforce transitions continue to be top-of-mind for state leaders, we’ll be watching for whether (and how) other states consider governance policies that will ensure people get the most value out of state P–20W data systems.  

People won’t use data they don’t value or trust. Regardless of their specific goals, if state legislators want to put data to work for COVID-19 recovery they must embrace strategies that take into account the voices of those communities that new policies and tools are intending to serve. We’ll be watching for service-oriented approaches to data policymaking that consider the needs of data users and give community voices a seat at the table for data decisionmaking. 

Stay tuned for our updates on the trends we’re seeing this session. In the meantime, check out our resources with analyses from DQC’s past eight years of education data legislation tracking .