How VLDS Will Transform the Way We Look at Rural Virginia
Author: Katherine Coates, Administrative Coordinator, Workforce Development Services
January 29, 2016
The Virginia Community College System (VCCS) is very excited to take our involvement with the Virginia Longitudinal Data System (VLDS) to the next level. Our agency represents the 23 community colleges across Virginia. We have over 260,000 students taking credit courses at our colleges. Last year, colleges provided more than 65,000 individuals with workforce related training and helped over 11,000 businesses strengthen their workforce. VCCS is currently gearing up to use the VLDS for one of our newest programs, The Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative (RVHI).
The goal of the Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative is to improve educational outcomes for rural communities in Virginia where there is a much lower rate of educational completion and attainment compared to rest of the state. The ‘rural horseshoe’ is a reference to the arc created when drawing a line through the Eastern Shore, across Southside Virginia through Southwest Virginia and up the Shenandoah Valley. The Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative will utilize full time career coaches and GED Incentives to reach its goals.
This project has two 10 year goals, making it the perfect candidate for VLDS data.These goals are to cut the number of residents living within the Rural Horseshoe who lack a high school diploma or its equivalent, from nearly 20 percent to 10 percent and to double the percentage of rural residents who earn an associate degree or college certification from 26 percent closer to rest of the state’s average of 52%. Longitudinal data will be instrumental in helping the career coaches we place in schools work most effectively. It will allow us to create a baseline using multiyear data and then hopefully see trends upwards. It will also serve as an excellent opportunity to bring more workforce data into the VLDS and allow for us look at the intersections between workforce and education. We believe this data will have a multi-agency purpose as more state agencies look to understand what is happening in Virginia’s rural communities. It will also be an opportunity to pilot report creation within the VLDS.
VCCS will be working with CIT to create the reports. It will be funded by Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI), a Department of Labor grant given to the VCCS that funds the enhancement of state workforce longitudinal databases. The reports created will also fulfill a requirement of the WDQI grant—which ends in June 2016. The dashboard will display a variety of metrics including GED attainment, degree attainment, median income and employment rate. The data collected from these reports will go into a living dashboard on the VLDS website to give stakeholders a clear picture of the rural / urban divide in Virginia.
Our hope is that the VLDS will grow and evolve as the data needs for this project grows. With many of these rural communities bordering Tennessee and Kentucky it will be important to eventually have the ability to incorporate out of state data. The deadlines for this report is June of this year so, please check back with the blog for an update on this exciting project.