Virginia Department of Social Services Onboard
View this email in your browser

VDSS Onboard – Virginia Department of Social Services Charts Out its Burning Questions for Researchers

The Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) officially has joined the Virginia Department of Education, State Council for Higher Education for Virginia, Virginia Employment Commission and Virginia Community College System as a VLDS participating agency. Like the other agencies, VDSS has identified burning questions to address questions that are pivotal to Virginia citizens and policymakers. Researchers who wish to use VLDS must address one or more burning questions in their research.

  • How does participation in public assistance programs (e.g. child care, WIC, Head Start, SNAP, TANF, Medicaid) in Virginia impact school readiness, school achievement, health, family cohesion, future employment and wages?
  • What is the return on investment from public assistance programs in Virginia? Are there patterns that suggest different program delivery models that may yield greater effectiveness or cost savings?
  • What are the most critical health, safety and community factors that contribute to children’s school readiness and school achievement?
  • What factors in the life of a foster care child have the greatest impact on school achievement and later mental, physical and financial health?
  • How does investment in early childhood health and education impact future need for and cost of public assistance?
  • How many child care providers who participate in Virginia’s Child Care Provider Scholarship Program go on to obtain an associate or bachelor’s degree in early childhood? 
  • What factors contribute to the success of TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) recipients after leaving the program? In particular, are those participating in TANF work skills training programs employed and earning a living wage one or two years after completing the program? Which work skills programs have the greatest success rates?

For the full list of VLDS burning questions, click here

VLDS Presents to Virginia Delegates

Tod Massa, director of policy research and warehousing for SCHEV, presented at the House Committee on Education Summit earlier this month. He provided valuable background information to delegates on what VLDS is and how data is being used for research. Massa outlined some of the research findings made possible by VLDS such as, Why Your Virginia Diploma Type Matters and Mid-Career Wage Outcomes.

Download Massa's full presentation here.

Q&A with Megan Healy - an Executive Order 23 Primer

Megan Healy is the Director of STEM for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Executive Order 23 (EO 23), issued by the Governor in August, outlines a long-term plan “Establishing the New Virginia Economy Initiative” around STEM fields.

VLDS: What does EO 23 mean for Virginia?
Healy: For Virginia to thrive in an increasingly globalized economy, the Commonwealth’s 21st century workforce agenda must meet the employment needs of business and industry while cultivating demand for future opportunities. By 2023, 494,988 new jobs will be created in Virginia. Another 932,677 workers will be needed to replace Virginia’s retiring workforce. That means in less than nine years, the Commonwealth will have more than 1.4 million positions to fill. More than half of these job openings will be in scientific, technical or healthcare careers, and will require some type of postsecondary credential. Careers in these fields offer the prospect of employment in high growth industries and are readily accessible for those who are trained, credentialed, and ready to work. Many of these jobs represent not only high individual wages, but also a substantial return on investment to the gross state product.
EO 23 is the pathway to the New Virginia Economy. Currently, 30 percent of Virginia’s economy is based on federal government contracts and funding, but these funds are shrinking with a loss of 154,000 jobs and $9 billion since 2010.  To build the new economy, we need to first start with looking at our current workforce gaps and build accelerated, postsecondary programs to meet the current and anticipated demands of our employers. EO 23 breaks down our workforce needs into four areas: 50,000 STEM-H credentials, veterans, diversifying the economy and supply and demand “real time” data. After we have strengthened our workforce, we will be globally competitive to recruit robust industries, which will have high economic value for the Commonwealth.
VLDS: What role to do you see the use of data playing in EO 23?
Healy: Data is key to knowing where the gaps are in our current workforce and to build programs toward our current and future workforce needs. The last component of EO 23 is the creation of the Commonwealth Consortium of Advanced Research and Statistics. This consortium will look at the pipeline from pre-K through employment or what I call playground to professional. We will look at what skills are developed in Virginia’s education system and make sure these align to what skills employers are looking for. The ultimate goal of this consortium would be to name a zip code in Virginia and know exactly what skill sets, not just degree or credential attainment, are available to recruit or grow industries. A common language or data dictionary between all workforce and education entities also needs to be established.
VLDS: What role does VLDS have in the initiative, in particular the new statewide common metrics for workforce programs?
Healy: The VLDS holds the data that provides the foundation for next steps of data decision-making in education and workforce. By looking at pathways of students, we can better align programs of study to employment outcomes. With our 24 workforce programs spread among nine state agencies, common metrics and data definitions are a must to fully track Virginians through the educational pipeline. The VLDS work group has made great strides in bringing data analysts and policy makers to the table to discuss common burning questions to find solutions to grow Virginia’s economy.
VLDS: Are there are other ways VLDS might be used to help inform the initiative?
Healy: Currently, the data in VLDS is in the hands of agency researchers. With the growth of interactive dashboards and searchable databases, Virginians have specific questions that might not be answered in current annual reports. Taking some of the data and making it interactive for research at all levels would be a great next step. SCHEV does a great job of providing data and transparency of higher education programs.
VLDS: How will privacy issues be balanced against the goals of a smarter, more aligned workforce of the future?
Healy: Virginia is looking at better ways to be transparent in all levels of state government.  With an increase in digitizing records and information sharing, it is a priority to find more effective and efficient ways to run public programs.  With the sharing of data, we can develop better programs to meet the needs of individuals and communities. Privacy concerns around VLDS are often a misunderstanding of the robust privacy safeguards built into the system. We need to build a better public awareness that we are using data to improve our students, schools, colleges and universities and workforce to meet the demands of our current economy and ensure future economic growth. 
EO 23 can be found here.

JMU Student's Apps4VA Experience a Proven Resume Builder

A JMU Student Relates Her Experience With Apps4VA
By: Jamie Martin
The Apps4VA program is a great program. I’ve never had a school project have so many repercussions on the rest of my life and my future. It has come up over and over again in job interviews I’ve had with companies, because it’s just the best finished off example of the kind of work that I can do. Read more…>
Apps4VA is seeking to expand the program to other Virginia universities.  For more information, contact

SCHEV High School Dual Enrollment Study

In a recent study, the State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV) for Virginia defined the high school dual enrollment program as one that “allows qualified high school students to enroll in college courses and earn college credit prior to high school graduation. This provides these students the opportunity to potentially reduce the time it takes to obtain an undergraduate credential…” SCHEV collects detailed student records on all students enrolled in public and private institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth. Each institution with dual enrollment programs reports its enrollment to SCHEV. (The great majority of dual enrollment students are enrolled in the Virginia Community College System.  In the spring of 2014, SCHEV published Pathways Through the Data, a tool that allows users to explore high school dual enrollment in Virginia’s community colleges. Some of the key takeaways include:

  • Ninety-five percent of high school dual enrollment activity is conducted at the VCCS.
  • From school years 2004-05 through 2013-14, high school dual enrollment students increased in numbers by 55% at VCCS
  • In 2013-14, more than half of the high school dual enrolled students earned credit in STEMH courses at VCCS.  (These are students who earned credit with a “C” or higher.)

Learn more about this study here

VLDS Recognized in the U.S. Senate

Earlier this month, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine highlighted VLDS in a statement made to the Senate. Kaine described VLDS as a vital research tool that “provides policymakers, researchers, and citizens with information that will prepare and connect Virginians with employment opportunities.” To read his full statement, skip to page 31 of the Congressional Record from November 20, 2014.

Brought to you by:
Virginia Department of Education
State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
Virginia Community College System
Virginia Employment Commission
Center for Innovative Technology 
For more information on VLDS, visit
VLDS PRIVACY PROMISE: We, the members of VLDS, promise to protect the privacy and confidentiality of data entrusted to us. The VLDS system is designed to meet or exceed all state and federal privacy laws and requirements.
Copyright © 2014 Virginia Longitudinal Data System, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences