States seeking to increase the number of young adults and workers obtaining valuable postsecondary credentials can help achieve that goal by collecting data on student success. States can use the data to identify student achievement gaps and leaks in the educational pipeline, improve education and training programs, identify transition issues, and evaluate the effectiveness of state education and workforce development strategies as a whole.
Promising state approaches include:
National Resources for State Policy Makers
Complete to Compete: Common College Completion Metrics.
Calculating the Productivity of Innovation: Using a Simplified Cost-Benefit Analysis to Promote Effective Practice.
Building and Strengthening State Data Systems to Measure Community College and Workforce Outcomes.
This policy brief examines the issues associated with creating, improving and connecting state postsecondary, adult education and skills development data systems. It also identifies barriers states may encounter and overcome, profiles model state systems, and makes policy recommendations to help state advocates build or improve their state data systems.
Performance Accountability Systems for Community Colleges: Lessons for the Voluntary Framework of Accountability for Community Colleges.
This study, commissioned by the Community College Research Center (CCRC), identifies performance measures that 10 states are already using for their community colleges, explores how well those measures articulate with the data demanded by IPEDS and the regional accrediting associations, and sheds light on the experiences of state higher education officials and local community college leaders with the collection and use of state performance data. The results of this study will inform the development of a Voluntary Framework of Accountability (VFA) for Community Colleges to ensure that the effectiveness and contributions of community colleges are properly measured.
The Ideal State Postsecondary Data System: 15 Essential Characteristics and Required Functionality.
In this paper, Peter Ewell and Hans L’Orange discuss the importance of Student Unit Recoard Systems (SUR) that contain an individual electronic record for each student. The authors outline 15 essential elements that a postsecondary data set should have to inform a complete analysis of educational pipeline issues and outcomes.
Community College Data and Performance Measurement Toolkit.
This toolkit, prepared for the Bridges to Opportunity initiative, describes how states can use longitudinal data on community college students for program improvement and evaluation. It includes case studies of states that have used data systematically and strategically to drive institutional change.
Using Longitudinal Data to Increase Community College Student Success: A Guide to Measuring Milestone and Momentum Point Attainment.
This guide informs states how to use data on community college students to identify critical educational outcomes and patterns of progress and achievement.
A Short Guide to “Tipping Point” Analyses of Community College Student Labor Market Outcomes.
This guide describes how states can use data on community college students to conduct “tipping point” analyses of labor market outcomes. It specifies the data elements needed to complete a study and potential uses of the research.
Power Tools: Designing State Community College Data and Performance Measurement Systems to Increase Success.
Prepared for the Achieving the Dream national initiative, this report identifies essential features of a system to measure the performance of state community colleges. It also describes the essential features of state data systems to support performance measurement.
State Data Systems and Privacy Concerns.
This report, also prepared for the Achieving the Dream national initiative, describes how states have successfully used student record data for evaluation and program improvement within the limits of federal privacy laws, particularly the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Included are the experiences of Florida, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
Following the Mobile Student: Can We Develop the Capacity for a Comprehensive Database to Assess Student Progression?
This report looks at dozens of state student databases to test the feasibility of linking them to create a more comprehensive network for tracking student progress. It features a survey of database managers on methods and frequency of data collection, types of data collected, and methods of managing, reporting and sharing that data.
State Policy Examples
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce also worked with NCHEMS on a policy audit of state workforce policies with recommendations for change, released in January 2009.
The Washington State Board of Community and Technical College System used longitudinal data to determine the “tipping point” at which students began to experience a substantial earnings payoff from college, and to determine how many basic skills students were reaching that tipping point. More information can be found on the Community College Research Center's web site.