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California takes next major step for data system to improve supports for students and families

SACRAMENTO – Following a collaborative 18-month planning process involving over 100 public meetings with government leaders, community members and data experts, California’s Cradle-to-Career Data System is now entering its next phase of development with the hiring of its first director, Mary Ann Bates. Governor Gavin Newsom championed the unprecedented collaboration to move California from one of only eight states without such a system to building the nation’s most robust system to date.

“Thanks to the dedicated efforts of our public leaders, community partners and data experts, California is now poised to launch a transformative system that will enable us to both learn more about how – and do more – to serve students and families in an equitable way,” said Newsom. “Mary Ann has spent her entire career laser-focused on closing the equity gap and is the perfect choice to lead this effort.”

An important component of the governor’s California Comeback Plan, the Cradle-to-Career System will link existing education, workforce, financial aid and social service information to better equip policymakers, educators and the public to close opportunity gaps and improve outcomes for all students throughout the state. Public dashboards and other tools will provide transparency into how students are educated and enter the workforce, along with corresponding insights into how policies and programs can better serve more students and families. The system will also expand and scale a one-stop resource – CaliforniaColleges.edu – for students to receive free, individually tailored support for career planning, financial aid and college applications.

In July 2021, Newsom signed AB 132, which established the California Cradle-to-Career Data System within the Government Operations Agency. The system is overseen by a governing board representing perspectives across the state, along with processes that ensure substantial public representation. The board earlier this week hired Bates to serve as the first director of the Office of Cradle-to-Career Data.

“This is a huge step forward in establishing the leadership so the work can begin in earnest to build a data system for all Californians. The board selected Mary Ann as the best candidate to bring the Cradle-to-Career system to reality,” said Amy Fong, chair of the governing board for the Office of Cradle-to-Career Data. “High-quality, connected data is the cornerstone of informed, effective and equitable decision-making. Mary Ann is a collaborative leader and will ensure data are seen in the context needed to shape policy and advance educational equity, and I’m excited to work with her.”

Bates is currently serving as a senior fellow in the White House Office of Management and Budget, and previously served as the executive director of the North America Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which aims to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. She launched and co-chaired the J-PAL State and Local Innovation Initiative, which brings state and local governments and academic researchers together to design studies and analyze data on how to effectively reduce poverty and advance opportunity.

“I am thrilled to see California’s progress in the development of the Cradle-to-Career Data System,” said Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger, president and CEO of Data Quality Campaign. “California’s approach aligns with the best practices DQC has identified working with a variety of states to break down silos and get people the information they need to help students succeed. We look forward to working with Mary Ann to ensure that California is making data work for students.”

“The Cradle-to-Career system will help ensure all parties have the information needed to do what’s best for students. We are excited to work with Mary Ann to achieve this important vision for California,” said Ted Lempert, president of Children Now. “All California’s students deserve equitable opportunities for learning.”

For more information about the data system, visit c2c.ca.gov and cadatasystem.wested.org.

 

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