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State and Local Data Infrastructure for Tracking Secondary to Postsecondary Educational Outcomes

Rebecca London and Oded Gurantz
Publication Date: 
January, 2010

There is an important case to be made for using linked administrative data to study students’ educational pathways in order to document and understand the trajectories they follow from secondary to postsecondary education. This brief discusses the ways in which existing administrative data can be used for this purpose. The authors begin with a discussion of existing statewide and local data linking projects and then discuss the specific types of administrative data that could be used to follow student pathways. The authors suggest that although the focus of data integration efforts has been at the state level, local initiatives can also play a key role. By situating an analysis of educational trajectories in a local context— for instance, by including students’ participation in specific after-school or summer bridge programs— research has a greater potential to shape the policies and practices that directly affect students’ experiences. Also, by focusing on data that are specific to the constituents they serve, policymakers and practitioners can gauge the scope and efficacy of the programs that are available in the community and identify gaps or areas of overlap.

Policy area: 
College, Career, and Civic Readiness