As DQC enters our eleventh year of monitoring state data legislation, our team is gearing up for another eventful legislative season. 24 states have already convened for the 2024 legislative session, and another nine states are preparing to start their sessions over the next week. As in years past, DQC will continue to identify and track legislation that impacts data policy across the education to workforce continuum—and highlight key themes, promising trends, and next steps for policymakers.
Following the launch of our new data access vision last year, this year DQC will pay special attention to how state legislators consider legislation that leverages state data systems to support people along their education and workforce journeys. Most states have already established their own statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDSs) that connect individual-level data over time from early childhood, K–12, postsecondary, and the workforce. But states still have work to do to invest in and transform their SLDSs so that all types of data users—individuals, the public, and policymakers alike—have meaningful access to the information they need to make decisions.
State legislators have a clear role to play in making sure that people can access and use information to navigate their unique education and career pathways. In 2024, we hope to see legislators continue to focus on access to data and take the following three actions:
- Codify cross-agency data governance. Bringing together agency leaders from across sectors to share a table and make transparent decisions about data is the most effective way states can establish comprehensive data ecosystems that work for people. In 2023, we saw cross-agency data governance legislation introduced in five states and passed in three states—it was a monumental year. Ultimately, Alabama, Montana, and Rhode Island joined Maryland, Kentucky, North Dakota, and California to serve as models for other states. The diversity of states enacting cross-agency data governance legislation shows that these bills are not unique to a particular state or party.
- Ensure greater access to data for decisionmaking. While states are working to get broader data policies in place, legislators can take action in specific ways to provide information to people. In 2023, a new law in Texas will provide students with information about their postsecondary and career options after high school. A new Virginia law focused on supporting students’ academic journeys by providing families with timely information on their students’ performance on state-issued assessments. Ensuring that students and families have the information they need also requires listening to them as crucial stakeholders; state leaders must engage communities when determining data access priorities and gather ongoing feedback.
- Keep data privacy and security top of mind. Ensuring that people’s data is kept private and secure is an obligation—not an obstacle to data access. With the rising prevalence of text, images, and videos generated by artificial intelligence (AI), as well as the increasing amount of personal information we all generate, legislators must be prepared to address new privacy and security concerns, including those dealing with AI.
2024 is shaping up to be busy, with 46 states and the District of Columbia in legislative session, as well as a presidential election. No one state legislator can tackle these recommendations alone. Making this vision a reality will require attention from agency leaders, governors, legislatures, and other state leaders—as well as sustainable funding for these systems. With leadership, every state can act now to ensure people have access to the information they need to make education and workforce decisions.