The Center for Administrative Data Analysis’s (CADA) goal is to facilitate high-quality research using administrative data to better understand how to enable human flourishing. CADA originated from partnerships with local school districts in California. Like many organizations, schools collect substantial amounts of data in their regular course of business. These data play an important role in the decision-making process. However, schools and other organizations lack the data needed to understand the challenges faced by those they are serving beyond their institution, limiting their ability to help them meet these challenges successfully.

Our Work in Education

Given our origin working with local school districts, much of our current work focuses on education. By linking educational data to information on the labor market, criminal justice contact, safety net program participation, family formation, mortality, and more, we seek to provide stakeholders with the answers they need on the outcomes they care about. In partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau’s Center for Administrative Records Research and Applications (CARRA), we are building unique data infrastructure to address these questions. This infrastructure will help us to both better understand the challenges that students face at home while they are in school, as well as students’ longer-term transitions to adulthood. Our findings in this arena inform educational policies and practices that enable our youth to be successful beyond the academy, and ensure that education leads to healthy and productive lives.

How does our administrative data infrastructure help? Understanding success in school matters primarily because of what school means for students’ futures: their labor market experiences, criminal justice contact, family formation, and health. Yet we currently lack the ability to link the rich administrative data collected by schools to data on the longer-term outcomes we care about. For example, in the typical best case scenario, data might provide insight into how K-12 mathematics policies might lead to undergraduate or graduate degrees in a STEM field. But if we care about our ability to produce not STEM degrees but productive STEM professionals, our current data our largely unable to answer such questions. CADA is undertaking an ambitious effort to address this and similar questions.

 

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