Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce released its new State Initiative, a web portal housing CEW’s past research on all 50 states and Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21. The new program is designed for state officials and policymakers to easily access data and information to supplement future policy decisions.
CEW was formed in 2008. Affiliated with the McCourt School of Public Policy, the center’s research focuses on understanding the interactions between education and the workforce while seeking to inform policymakers at local, state and national levels.
The State Initiative follows the CEW’s efforts to seek out better ways to accommodate policymakers looking to utilize data collected in past research. The initiative signals CEW’s commitment to making its research more widely available and easier to access as states seek better data to better inform policy decisions.
“We were approached by several governors and the National Governor’s Association over the years to help with building information systems for more effective public higher education management. This helped spearhead this project,” CEW Director Anthony Carnevale wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Over the course of a year, Carnevale desired to see CEW’s research not only inform current education systems, but also influence organizations and institutions within states to conduct their own research.
State Initiative Director Neil Ridley was tasked with building the program in order to influence the research and policy efforts conducted by individual states.
“Ideally, it would be good to see state officials as well as higher education systems using education data more extensively, more intensively than they are now,” Ridley said. “That involves using the research our scholars produce, but that it means building [their state’s] own capacity, at the institution and state level, to analyze data useful to the area.”
The State Initiative web portal can be accessed through the CEW website and is available for public access. The portal displays the entire United States divided along state lines. By clicking a state, web users can access all available research reports developed by CEW relevant to each state.
One of CEW’s most recent reports focuses on Pennsylvania’s state university system, which awarded 10 percent more bachelor’s degrees to students from 2009 to 2014. Through the State Initiative, clicking on Pennsylvania allows users to see the full report, a press release, related research and statistically significant figures.
Ridley said he believes the new program is a progressive step to help policymakers utilize existing data to form effective programs and institutional developments. He said the people involved in the project’s actual development and implementation strengthen the CEW’s new initiative.
“I see this as a natural step to be continuing to work with states and helping states move forward. But also CEW has very knowledgeable and very talented researchers, people who are very well-known in their field,” Ridley said. “We were also able to work with experts outside CEW who have a lot of state experience and it was extremely valuable to learn along side them and pick up what they learn from their fields of experience.”
By compiling research into an accessible web portal, Ridley also hopes the initiative will be utilized by those outside of the policymaking field. He argued anyone can explore the data relevant to their state, education level and occupation while being informed of how such information can affect their lives down the road.
“There’s value for students and those who are looking for better data because states and their data systems are able to produce potentially better, higher quality data on what’s happening to students as they go into the labor market now,” Ridley said. “So I think there’s going to be a great benefit to students who are thinking about where to go to college, or thinking about whether to go to college at all, and what course of study and programs people should take.”
While the new initiative marks a significant development for CEW, others believe the program will be effective and useful for those who seek to better inform their own lives.
Anna Teitler (COL ’18), minoring in education, inquiry and justice, said she is pleased that the data is openly available, acknowledging the potential for ordinary citizens to have greater voice when it comes to educational policy.
“It’s an incredible compilation and definitely holds a lot of potential for anyone in charge of making decisions,” Teitler said. “But imagine what ordinary people could do with it, too. Now normal citizens can click on their state and find reports on how well their state is doing. That’s the most interesting part.”
Miller Bartosz (COL ’18) said she thought the State Initiative, while a powerful development in terms of aggregating data, still has room to fill its full potential. He argued the next goal for compiling and organizing data should be focused at a hyper-local level within states.
“It’s relevant and a comprehensive step in terms of talking about ways to make improvements generally,” Bartosz said. “Maybe the program can give states and Georgetown the incentive to conduct and compile research at county levels. That’s where I believe the best research can be done to help states find the best policies.
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