It’s always wise to know the facts before you make a decision. That’s true with personal decisions such as choosing a career and planning the education necessary to reach your goal, and it’s true with public policy choices to improve the education and workforce of Kentucky.
The Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYStats) was created to collect, link and evaluate education and workforce data so that Kentucky’s leaders, policymakers and the general public can have the facts to make the best decisions for our state. This includes developing reports and providing statistical data about past and current education efforts so that we can make better informed decisions. To accomplish this work, the Center maintains the Kentucky Longitudinal Data System (KLDS), a statewide education and workforce data system. KYStats was established pursuant to KRS 151B.131- 134.
Just as information in an annual report can show a corporation what it has accomplished and where it needs to go to thrive and grow, having a data warehouse for all Kentucky education, training and workforce information together where it can be studied and evaluated makes sense for our Commonwealth. For example, evaluating past performance of students in high school and college can tell us how to improve our schools and teacher preparation for the future. It can point out areas where universities can improve to help students succeed in the workplace.
The education and workforce information is collected with the utmost care for security and privacy and follows strict reporting protocol. Data are stripped of all identifiers such as the person’s name, date of birth, social security number and the agency or institution identification. Then it is given a unique identifier that protects the person’s and institution’s information. Once the data are stripped of identification, it is placed in a De-identified Warehouse where analyses, reports, requests and evaluations are created. The focus of the research is on the numbers not the individual students.
Longitudinal data includes the same type of information on the same subjects overtime to allow following a class and its test scored from kindergarten through high school graduation. Evaluating those statistics allows Kentucky policymakers to see the effects of real policies and practices on learning over a number of years and make adjustments as needed for future students.
KLDS takes that type of research further by storing education and workforce information in a virtual warehouse where researchers can merge the data from different systems and view it from a broad perspective.
The Center collects the following education and workforce information:
Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is used to initially match people within our system and then replaced by unique system identifiers. None of this PII moves with the data to the De-Identified Reporting System (DRS). Reports and analyses are generated from data that no longer contains any PII.
The Center also follows strict redaction and suppression guidelines to further ensure the privacy of all individuals. The Center maintains these guidelines for all data and information used and reported out of the KLDS or De-Identified Reporting System (DRS). This process ensures compliance with the Family Education Rights 3 and Privacy Act (FERPA) 20 U.S.C. 1232g and KRS 164.283 as well as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq., KRS 157.200 et seq., and 707 KAR Chapter 1. See the Center’s Acceptable Use Guidelines for more information on how data privacy is maintained.
The Center follows strict data security standards to minimize the risk of exposure of individual records. The database servers for the KLDS are located and maintained by the Commonwealth Office of Technology (COT) and are subject to the COT’s security requirements. The Center exceeds these requirements by also performing real-time I/O encryption and decryption of the data and log files and even data files at rest. Access to the data is highly controlled where only those needing to see sensitive fields are able to do so. The Center establishes and implements reasonable security and breach investigation procedures and practices in accordance with relevant enterprise policies established by the COT pursuant to KRS 61.932(1)(b).
Collecting and researching this information will not give Kentucky a crystal ball for the future but it does give the state a map so we can see where we have come from and how to get to a higher plane in the future.