Virginia Longitudinal Data System

Infrastructure Systems

  • Data Systems


Founded in 2009, Virginia’s Department of Education’s Virginia Longitudinal Data System (VLDS ) is a P-20 longitudinal data systemA P-20 longitudinal data system (LDS) “integrates unit-level, high-quality student, staff, and program data that are linked across entities and over time” and spans sectors from multiple early childhood programs to higher education or beyond. Source: Institute of Education Sciences. (n.d.). that includes pre-K screening data and early childhood program data. The federated system (i.e., a data sharing system that does not consolidate all data in one warehouse) was developed with the Virginia Institute of Technology to merge demographic, program, and individual data while leaving private data inside agencies’ firewalls. The individual data is deidentified with a unique identifier. Although the VLDS has a research agenda and series of papers, data is only available internally for use by agencies, including the Virginia Department of Education, Department of Social Services, and Office of Children’s Services, or approved researchers.

The system is funded through federal Statewide Longitudinal Data System grants.

VCU Performance Management Group. (2021). Virginia Longitudinal Data System Research Agenda.
LiBetti, A. & Fu, R. (2022). A State Scan of Early Learning Assessments and Data Systems. New America.

Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:

Strong infrastructure and systems – including governance structures and data systems – are key aspects of high-quality early education and care. And research suggests there is a need for more accessible, affordable, and high-quality early education within a mixed-delivery system; strengthening infrastructure and systems is one important way states and cities can take action to address these needs and accomplish these goals.

Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) that connect to the need for more robust infrastructure and systems, including data systems:

  • Families rely on a range of formal (e.g., Head Start, center-based care, public pre-K) and more informal (e.g., home-based, relative care) early education settings; when choosing a setting for their child, families balance many logistical constraints and personal preferences.
  • But for many families – and especially low- and middle-income families – early education choices remain tightly constrained due to issues of affordability and supply.
  • No one early education setting type is inherently of higher quality than another; children develop and learn well in every setting type, and in the study, all setting types showed room to grow in quality.
  • We have learned a great deal from this groundbreaking, large-scale study. Nevertheless, there is still much to learn about what children, families, and educators need, and about what “works” – for whom and under what circumstances – across all the diverse settings where young children learn and grow.
Learn More about ELS@H Findings

Learn more about Virginia

Context matters. Visit the Virginia profile page to learn more about its demographics, political landscape, early education programs, early education workforce, and funding sources and streams.

Visit the Virginia Profile Here
  • The state population is 8,683,619
  • The percentage of children under 6 with all available parents in the workforce is 68%
  • The rural percentage is 24.4%