Passage of HB1664 - Assigning the Administration of VLDS

Author: Tod.Massa
February 26, 2017

The 2017 session of the Virginia General Assembly represents a new era for VLDS. House Bill 1664, carried by Delegate Thomas A. “Tag” Greason (R) - House District 32 (part of Loudoun County), was passed by both chambers and now awaits the Governor’s signature. The primary impact of this bill is to make the administration of VLDS a general duty of the State Council of Higher Education, a gubernatorial board.

In totality, the bill accomplishes three things.   As I mentioned, the key change is the statutory assignment of VLDS to SCHEV:

 30. Administer the Virginia Longitudinal Data System as a multiagency partnership for the purposes of developing educational, health, social service, and employment outcome data; improving the efficacy of state services; and aiding decision making.

The good news is that this changes nothing about how VLDS operates as partnership. The current state of affairs works well. What it does change is who has the responsibility for paying the bills and managing the contracts. Although, not really as this language is similar to what was placed in the state budget in 2016. What is truly a significant change is that VLDS will exist in state law, which means future legislation can point to VLDS as the source of data for specific reports or policy. It also means that oversight of VLDS moves beyond the staff level to the board, something that I think is important as it adds a bit more gravitas to our efforts.

A second change is to restate language due to expire on June 30, 2017 regarding SCHEV’s reports on post-completion wage and debt outcomes.

§ 23.1-204.1. Postgraduation employment rates.

A. The Council shall annually publish data on its website on the proportion of graduates of each public institution of higher education and each nonprofit private institution of higher education eligible to participate in the Tuition Assistance Grant Program (§ 23.1-628 et seq.) who are employed (i) 18 months after the date of graduation and (ii) five years after the date of graduation. The data shall include the program and the program level, as recognized by the Council, for each degree awarded by each institution; the percentage of graduates known to be employed in the Commonwealth; the average salary and the average higher education-related debt for the graduates on which the data is based; rates of enrollment in remedial coursework for each institution; individual student credit accumulation for each institution; rates of postsecondary degree completion; and any other information that the Council determines is necessary to address adequate preparation for success in postsecondary education and alignment between secondary and postsecondary education. The Council shall disseminate to each public high school and each public institution of higher education and private institution of higher education for which the Council has student-level data a link on its website to the published data. The Council shall provide a notification template that each public high school may use to annually notify students and their parents about the availability of such data. The published data shall be consistent with the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act (§ 2.2-3800 et seq.) and the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. § 1232g).

 

B. Each such institution of higher education shall provide a link to such published postsecondary education and employment data.

This language is identical to the current law.

The final language change is a modest amendment to the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act (Virginia’s key privacy law) which will allow SCHEV to work with federal agencies to obtain wage match files for graduates working for the federal government to improve our reporting on wage outcomes.

E. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia may disseminate student information to agencies acting on behalf or in place of the U.S. government to gain access to data on wages earned outside the Commonwealth or through federal employment, for the purposes of complying with § 23.1-204.1.

I think all of us on the VLDS team are excited to see this bill pass. It provides some permanence, particularly with the budget allocation made last session for the VLDS in this biennium. It also, after several years of trying to get similar bills passed, demonstrates that the legislature has heard, considered, debated, and voted on what we are trying to accomplish with VLDS.

In short, it is a demonstration of confidence.

Many thanks for this outcome go to Delegate Greason who is a true supporter of VLDS and Elizabeth Creamer, Advisor for Workforce Development, office of Secretary of Commerce and Trade, who has been our champion in the administration since the very beginning.

 

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