We at Cradle-to-Career (C2C) regularly hold Community Conversations, interactive meetings with the public, to keep interested members up to speed on the progress of C2C. Previous Community Conversations included updates on the early activities of the data system and demos on CaliforniaColleges.edu, one of the first available free operational tools being scaled to serve all Californians as part of the broader Cradle-to-Career system.
We held our third Community Conversation at the end of September with over 50 members of the community who ranged from research scientists, to policy associates, to educators focused on early care. And we introduced our new directors Ryan Estrellado (Director of Data Programs) and Shannon Serrato (Director of Engagement) who heard from folks about what they’re looking forward to in the Fall – Pumpkin patches! Halloween! Soup season! – before diving into interactive sessions on important elements of C2C’s work: the official Cradle-to-Career name and data dashboards.
What’s in a Name?
California’s Cradle-to-Career System was named in state legislation to be California’s source of actionable data and research on education, economic, and health outcomes for individuals, families, and communities, and we go by many different names (from The Office of Cradle-to-Career Data to California’s Cradle-to-Career Data System to Cradle-to-Career Data), but we want to ensure our name truly reflects the state’s landmark investment and goal to help Californians build more equitable futures and empower individuals to reach their full potential.
We launched an initial poll asking members of the call which terms resonated with them when thinking about Cradle-to-Career, and which words, in return, created barriers when thinking about C2C. Over 75% of members of the call said terms like Data, System, and Information were key words that resonated with the community, while others like Ecosystem and Hub did not spark joy.
Then we asked folks to share their thoughts about words or phrases that came to mind when thinking about the system. Here’s some of what they came up with:
- College and Career Guidance for Students of All Ages
- Holistic Student Journey
- Data Hub for Educational Insights
We are so grateful for the thoughtful insight from this group, and we are taking what we heard from the community to curate a final list of name and tagline options that we will fine-tune with our Advisory Boards for final discussion and approval from our Governing Board – stay tuned!
Cradle-to-Career is engaging a user-centered design process to build easy-to-use dashboards focused on key education outcomes for individuals from early childhood education through K-12, postsecondary education, and the workforce, and we kicked off a discussion on our data dashboards during this Community Conversation. We first created a shared understanding of what we mean when we use the term data dashboard – a visual display that summarizes many data points so users can effectively absorb information and make useful decisions – then looked at examples of data dashboards and shared ideas for Cradle-to-Career’s Teacher Training and Teacher Retention dashboards.
We asked members on the call to share when they used data dashboards in the past – Data Quest! Financial scorecards! COVID-19 tracking! – and when they knew they’d use them again – When they saw the interactivity and insights. When it’s easy to navigate. When my boss told me we needed to focus on it!
Ryan then walked through C2C’s plans to build dashboards that will share information that helps teachers finish their training journey and include information on majors for students in teacher preparation programs, such as what they studied in community college or the topic of their bachelor’s degree.
We asked respondents about a wish for these types of dashboards as we build out the system, with many answers aligning with Cradle-to-Career’s goal of centering equity to build the most inclusive data system in the country. We heard from you that you want data that is disaggregated, user-friendly, linked, and informed.
We also asked folks how they’d like to use the dashboards and heard they should be interactive, able to filter – by geography, credential type, etc. – and we need to make sure the data is downloadable.
This short conversation was just a teaser for what’s to come. Your feedback is crucial to the team as we build out the Cradle-to-Career Data System, and thanks again to everyone who joined us for the September Community Conversation. For details on the next session, make sure to join the conversation by signing up for the Cradle-to-Career newsletter.