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In its regular 2007 session, the Louisiana Legislature passed Act 18, also known as the State budget, which allocated $1,000,000 to the Picard Center for the development of an integrated longitudinal data system.

This data system will give the Center the capability of conducting research studies incorporating data collected from numerous state agencies. This project will make it possible to discover relationships in data from across various state agencies and thus study and identify trends.

The Picard Center’s system will have unprecedented breadth and scope, integrating not only educational data from prekindergarten through college, but also data related to a child’s overall health and well-being. Additionally, it will follow children into the workforce to capture the long-term economic and social outcomes.

The Center is coordinating communication and cultivating ties among agency partners to support this collaboration, breaking down silos and connecting the data sets so agencies can better understand their own effectiveness.

The design will allow Center specialists to analyze data at multiple geographic levels, such as the school, municipality, parish, state and national levels. This design also permits comparison of schools or parishes, for instance, within the state, as well as comparison of Louisiana trends with those at the regional, national, and international levels. This data are available from multiple sources today—but no one source merges the data elements and compiles multiple data sources at the individual level as this project does.

Planned studies include, among others:

  • Case studies of African American males in effective and ineffective schools, with the goal of examining possible causes and solutions to gender-and ethnicity-related achievement gaps;
  • Occupational forecasting, linking state workforce and education data with the capability of informing higher education institutions of predicted labor force requirements;
  • Studies linking health-care quality to possible school achievement and eventual workforce outcomes;
  • Studies examining links between educational achievement and adult outcomes including workforce, corrections and mental health.

Current data-sharing agreements with state agencies include program evaluation and “rapid response” data analysis provided by the Center on a contractual basis.  Faculty from state universities are offered access to the Integrated Longitudinal Data System (within confidentiality regulations) to conduct academic research and inform Louisiana policy.

The longitudinal project also includes the Picard Center’s new Pathways to Louisiana’s Future model, which visually displays the options and pathways individuals take as they move from birth into the world of work. This model could also provide valuable information to policymakers of how changing the landscape could impact future economic and social outlooks.

While there are a few systems in the United States with a similar purpose, the Picard Center’s system will serve as a model to other states and research institutions.