Washington, DC (December 4, 2019) – States and postsecondary institutions need to know how well institutions are preparing students for a successful career. Accurate, timely data on student outcomes and post-graduate earnings is a critical piece of any state effort to close equity gaps in college access and success, boost attainment statewide, and strategically align education and workforce goals. Unfortunately, in the absence of a federal student-level data network, states and other key stakeholders do not have all the information they need to inform state and institutional efforts and best serve students.
In 2014, the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) began the Postsecondary Data Collaborative, better known as "PostsecData," to advocate for high-quality data to promote student success, inform policies, and empower college choices. From that initiative emerged a State Working Group dedicated to addressing challenges facing state postsecondary leaders, including limitations in student outcomes data and inefficiencies in data collection and use. Along with challenges, these state leaders also have shared creative solutions. A report published today not only highlights one of these solutions but also presents a roadmap for other institutions interested in replicating the approach.
Most state estimates of students' workforce outcomes are limited to students who remain in the state after graduation. In A Roadmap to Better Data: Developing a Census Bureau Partnership to Measure National Postsecondary Earnings Outcomes, Stephanie Bond Huie and David Troutman of the University of Texas (UT) System describes a first-of-its-kind collaborative between the UT System and the U.S. Census Bureau to provide data on student outcomes - including for those who eventually leave the state. Begun in 2017, the partnership provides accurate, timely, and secure data on student earnings outcomes by institution, degree level, and field of study within the UT system. With information to assess the success of all graduates, the UT System is better equipped to create evidence-based policies and practices and promote the success of all students.
"The UT System and Census Bureau's partnership is a perfect example of how critical and urgent it is for states and institutions to have access to more complete data on student outcomes, especially employment outcomes," said IHEP Vice President of Policy Research, Mamie Voight.
"We hope that this technical roadmap will help institutions pursue strategic data partnerships within their states and elevate the utility of student outcomes data," said David Troutman, Associate Vice Chancellor of Institutional Research and Advanced Analytics at the UT System.
"The partnership between the UT System and the U.S. Census Bureau has demonstrated that is possible to protect student data and at the same time provide timely information to help students make informed decisions," noted Stephanie Bond Huie, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Institutional Research and Analysis for the UT System. "In fact, this partnership informed recent updates to the College Scorecard and, ideally, will continue to inspire leaders at the federal level to create a more comprehensive student-level data network."
The roadmap provides state data leaders with guidance at every critical step of replicating the partnership, including building buy-in and approval from leadership, developing necessary legal agreements, and ensuring the quality and security of data.
Today's report can be used in conjunction with IHEP's November 2019 guidebook, Better Data, Better Outcomes: Promoting Evidence, Equity, and Student Success Through the Framework Postsecondary Data Solutions, to help states overcome common data challenges.