Panel Paper: Comparing State and National Approaches to Education and Training Program Scorecards

Thursday, November 8, 2018
Madison A - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Scott Davis, American Institutes for Research, Stephen Wandner, Urban Institute and Louis Jacobson, New Horizons Economic Research

American workers interested in enhancing or augmenting their skills often enroll in education and training programs that they expect to help them progress along a career path or find and keep good jobs. To provide individuals with information to help them decide among program alternatives, some states have created websites (termed scorecards) that allow users to browse education and training opportunities and view the labor market outcomes of recent program completers. Because of the challenges states face in producing such systems, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) was interested in considering potential alternative approaches, such as having DOL facilitate the process of creating these systems. This study focused on two questions: (1) Is it feasible to use national databases of employment and earnings data for state education and training program scorecards? (2) How different are employment- and earnings-related outcome measures for education and training programs when based on single-state unemployment insurance (UI) wage records versus data from a national database of earnings? To answer these questions, IMPAQ worked with three states—Missouri, New Jersey, and Ohio—each of which provided us with administrative data on training completers along with UI wage record data. Moreover, the states agreed to allow us to match their data to the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH), a national database of earnings. To understand how the employment- and earnings-related measures typically used in scorecards compare when based on either single-state wage record data or a national database of earnings, a series of outcome measures was calculated using both data sources. The measures were then compared. The key results are: (1) the alternatives are limited in terms of existing databases with national coverage that could be used to support a national approach to scorecards; (2) in states like Missouri and Ohio, scorecard measures based on single-state UI data are not meaningfully different than if they were based on national data; and (3) in states like New Jersey, scorecard measures based on single-state UI data are underestimated due to substantial missing data on trainees who work in other states. Based on the results, IMPAQ provides three recommendations to DOL: (1) work to streamline the process of accessing the NDNH; (2) encourage and/or help foster regional wage record data sharing among groups of states; and (3) identify ways to enable information sharing among states, so states without scorecards may learn from those that have been successful at creating and maintaining them.