Washington Education Research and Data System

Infrastructure to Support Early Childhood Systems

  • Data Systems


Since 2007, Washington State’s Office of Financial Management’s Education Research & Data Center (ERDC) has hosted the state’s 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.)., which includes data on preschool programs and early intervention services. The system functions as a warehouse and identity-matching process across state agencies, including the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) and the State Board of Education. It links demographic, program, and individual data ranging from early childhood education and care to K-12/higher education to the workforce. The individual data is deidentified with a unique identifier to create cross-sector data sets. Data is available by request for authorized users. The ERCD can create data files, analyze data, conduct cross-sector research, and support data collections.

The system began in 2007 with the founding of the Governor’s P-20 council and further defined through legislation (RCW 43.41.400). The system expanded in 2009 and is funded by federal grants, including Statewide Longitudinal Data System grant and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant.

Other Sources:
Education Research and Data Center (2014). Early Childhood Program Participation and K-12 Outcomes.
Washington State Legislature (n.d.). RCW 43.41.400: Education data center.

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 Washington

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

Visit the Washington Profile Here
  • The state population is 7,785,786
  • The percentage of children under 6 with all available parents in the workforce is 62%
  • The rural percentage is 16.6%