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#AskExcelinEd: Why Do Credentials Matter?

• Patricia Levesque


States support a wide range of career and technical education (CTE) programs that feature industry-recognized credentials, but how effective are they at preparing high school students for a future career and long-term success?

Credentials Matter, a first-of-its-kind analysis by ExcelinEd and Burning Glass Technologies, examines whether the credentials students earn align with real-world employer demand. This project presents the most extensive data collection available on industry-recognized credentials earned in states.

The Credentials Matter research uncovered some thought-provoking findings.
  • Only about half of all states (28) collect quantitative data on the attainment of credentials. This means that only approximately half of all states can analyze the credentials their students are earning and evaluate whether those credentials align with labor demand in their states.
  • Of the 24 states where data was made available for Credentials Matterno state is highly aligned in terms of supply of credentials earned by high school students and demand for those credentials in the job market.
  • States do not have consistent definitions for what constitutes an industry-recognized credential—even though high school students earn hundreds of thousands of credentials each year.
  • Many credentials are not explicitly requested in employer job listings, even though the credentials may be required or desired for the position.

Credentials Matter represents a critical first step to understanding the current credentials landscape across the U.S. so policymakers and other stakeholders can build a better career education system for students.

The Credentials Matter report and interactive website of data together can inform and inspire efforts to build a better classroom-to-career educational path for America’s students.

Explore the Website

Visit to explore interactive maps and data tables and to learn more.

Read the Report

View the Credentials Matter report to examine the analysis’s approach, findings and recommendations.

About Credentials Matter

Credentials Matter is an ongoing research partnership between ExcelinEd and Burning Glass Technologies designed to shed light on the landscape of industry credential data collection and alignment across the country. The project provides insight into how industry credentials earned by high school students align with workforce demand in each state to inform education system improvements and state data collection practices. Visit for more information.

Credentials Matter was made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors.

About the author

Patricia Levesque @levesquepat

Patricia is the Chief Executive Officer for the Foundation for Excellence in Education. She served as Governor Jeb Bush’s deputy chief of staff for education, enterprise solutions for government, minority procurement, and business and professional regulation. Previously, Patricia served six years in the Florida Legislature in the Speakers Office and as staff director over education policy. Contact Patricia at