Event Recap | First Annual Friends of Longitudinal Data Systems Fall Symposium

On Thursday, October 27th, MassINC and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston co-hosted the First Annual Friends of Longitudinal Data Systems Fall Symposium.

The Friends of Longitudinal Data Systems (FoLDS) is a new group dedicated to advancing cutting-edge social policy research in Massachusetts. A collection of education advocates, researchers, philanthropic funders, and policymakers, FoLDS elevates longitudinal data research for evidence-based policymaking and advocates for long-term improvements in the state’s data infrastructure.

Dept. of Elementary and Secondary of Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley opened the event with remarks highlighting the need for better data to guide decision-making, the strides Massachusetts has made building datasets that follow students across systems, and the critical work ahead to improve and sustain cross-agency longitudinal datasets.

Harvard’s Richard Murnane followed with an example of the powerful insight we can gain from these data, sharing results from a new study examining outcomes for students who transfer from community colleges to four-year institutions.

We then learned how Massachusetts can make better use of its rich longitudinal datasets, while increasing security and protecting individual privacy, through a formal governance process for cross-agency data sharing. The thought-provoking panel featured Rep. Kate Lipper-Garabedian, MassINC’s Ben Forman, the Data Quality Campaign’s Taryn Hochleitner, and Latinos for Education’s Dr. Jessica Huizenga.

The plenary session concluded with updates from state agencies. DESE’s Sam Ribnick, reported on the progress of the state’s Education to Career Data Hub. Lauren Godding and Charlie Pearce introduced the state’s new Department of Economic Research and the data products it has produced.

Attendees then split up into three groups for an interactive working lunch. Led by DESE’s Ofa MiddletonHeidi Gold from the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security, Adrienne Murphy from the Department of Early Education and Care, Child Trends’ Carlise King, and Strategies for Children’s Titus DosRemedios, Session One focused on advancing integrated longitudinal data from early childhood. Session Two looked at ways to provide the public with interactive college and career dashboards, with Sam RibnickBrian Mudrak of the Kentucky Center for Statistics, and the MA Business Alliance for Education’s James Mikolowsky. The final group explored potential benefits of building a research consortium for the city of Boston. Boston Area Research Initiative’s Dan O’Brien, the City of Boston’s Santiago Garcés Escobar, and Kerry Donahue of the Boston Schools Fund, and Edvestors’ Heather Johnson led this probing conversation.

MassINC looks forward to continued partnership with the FoLDS community, as we work to build further support for improving the state’s longitudinal data infrastructure and increasing the utilization of this invaluable resource for evidence-based policymaking. If you have questions about this work or how you can participate, please direct them to general@massinc.org.

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