To develop effective institution- and department-level policies, colleges and universities need more specific, “fine-grained data” on student progression than are necessary for policymakers and students, says the report.

Questions higher-ed must answer are:

1. What is the successful credit accumulation by semester or year?

2. What is the year-to-year (or semester-to-semester) persistence?

3. What are the developmental course completion rates, disaggregated by developmental education needs?

4. What are the courses with high drop, failure, or withdrawal rates?

The report explains that, minimally, each metric should be disaggregated by race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and other indicators of interest for the campus.

“Close analysis of these key benchmarks can help institutions identify and remove early roadblocks to student success and change policies to smooth the pathway to a credential,” says the report. “Such improvement requires not only data collection, but also close and continued coordination between the institutional research office and other key departments, such as student affairs, academic affairs, and financial aid.”

Outside of internal data, the report notes that institutions need access to better national databases to best form policy and improve their campuses.

Databases should include information on which students have access to which colleges; how many—and which—students complete college; how much college costs, and how students pay; and what outcomes students experience after college in the workplace and society, notes the report.

For more information on what data sources are available now; the difference in questions for students, consumers, and institutions; and how data can be sorted by measure, data and interface, read the report.


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