What’s really working in public education? In its goal to build an educational system that prepares all students to succeed in a global economy, the state of Washington wanted better data to make more informed policy decisions. In 2007, the state legislature established the Education Research and Data Center (ERDC) to collect, link and analyze data from over 350 organizations spanning preschool, K-12, higher education, and the workforce (P20W). In 2010, the ERDC received a $17.3 million federal grant to create a P20W Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) to enhance its capabilities and share data with state agencies, policy makers, researchers, education leaders and the public. The state engaged Point B to manage the four-year program.

Creating a structure for success

Point B implemented the structure to enable the many moving parts of the P20W program. We provided strategic assistance and guidance to two key projects—establishing P20W data governance and developing the P20W data warehouse, both essential to ERDC’s data collection, linking and sharing. Working closely day-to-day with the state’s P20W program director, our focus on managing risk through mitigation strategies and contingency planning resolved emerging issues before they could hinder progress and provided the ability to seamlessly change direction when issues could not be avoided.

Job 1: A new data warehouse

Point B watched closely over the P20W data warehouse project and also served as project manager of this key project during its formative months. We developed mitigation strategies that kept teams moving forward in challenging times and led the project through the difficult, but necessary decision to replace a major vendor.

Transparency builds confidence

In the program’s early days, when even supporters were skeptical of its ambitious goals, we helped the ERDC articulate its vision of success and align all program activities to it. Realizing the intense public interest and oversight, we communicated early and often with all audiences—from the steering committee and quality assurance oversight to the state’s Office of the Chief Information Officer and the U.S. Department of Education’s grant manager.

Enabling data-driven decisions

With the P20W data warehouse in operation, Washington state leads the nation in its ability to collect and share P20W data with stakeholders working to make effective public policy decisions. This data access has accelerated many projects to completion. The number of data requests from educators, policymakers and researchers across the state continues to grow, and the ERDC’s ability to respond quickly is greatly enabled by its successful P20W program outcomes.