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Practices with Promise Success Story

Submitted By: Kristen Arps, Salinas Valley Consortium

Better Data and New Mechanisms for Making Data-Informed Decisions

The Challenge

The SVAEC has been committed to developing processes that enable it to operate efficiently, effectively, and equitably through data-informed decision making. It has faced 2 major challenges: a lack of data and a lack of formal processes for using data in programmatic and fiscal decisions. The Members’ student data was incomplete and inconsistent, the regional census data did not indicate different levels of need within the Consortium, and there was limited data related to community members’ adult education needs from their perspective. There also were no formal processes for ensuring Member accountability, evaluating Member effectiveness, guiding program improvement, or making data-driven funding decisions.

The Solution

The SVAEC provided training and technical assistance to Members to improve their student data collection and reporting practices, with guidance from a Data Workgroup. A separate Accountability Workgroup was formed to focus on Member accountability and effectiveness tools and Consortium decision-making processes (to recommend to the Steering Committee for final approval). And a research consultant was hired to both gather regional data and help the Accountability Workgroup. The primary directives for the research consultant were the development of a data-driven funding formula and the development and administration of a regional adult education needs assessment survey.


The SVAEC increased the quantity & quality of data useful for decision-making purposes –invaluable in the 3-year planning process – including Member student data (enrollment & demographics; still improving outcomes data collection); Member spending data (quarterly expenditures by object code & program area); census data (disaggregated by Member District); and regional AE needs assessment data (1,243 surveys & several focus groups). New accountability policies & practices were established, e.g. carryover fund reallocation and spending target policies. The funding formula proposed to the Steering Committee was not approved but may be revisited. Shared Consortium Funds have been reallocated to 4 Members via a pilot proposal process.

The Data

A comparison of the quantity & quality of student data in TE in 16-17, 17-18, and 18-19 shows incredible progress. Regional census data and data from the SVAEC 2018 Regional AE Needs Assessment shows need at a regional level; both were disaggregated by Member District for planning at Consortium and Member levels; these were also compared with current levels of service reflected in student data to identify service gaps. A new budget-monitoring tool in (SmartSheets; pre-NOVA) and related policies and practices are used to monitor Member spending. Prototypes were developed and are being revised: new project proposal and additional funding request forms & rubrics; a funding formula; a peer observation tool; and a member effectiveness checklist.

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