Ms. Janice Kelly‐Reid
IPEDS Project Director
3040 East Cornwallis Road P.O. Box 12194
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
Dear Ms. Kelly‐Reid:
This letter is in response to RTI’s Report and Suggestions from IPEDS Technical Review Panel 45: Outcome Measures, published as a summary of the September 22‐23 Technical Review Panel (TRP) hosted by RTI International. The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to promoting access to and success in higher education for all students, particularly those who have traditionally been underserved by our postsecondary system. We produce innovative and timely research to inform both policy and practice and recognize the crucial role that quality data play in informing policy, research, institutional improvement, and consumer choice. We are joined in this letter by partner organizations working as part of the PostsecData Collaborative to promote the availability and use of high‐quality postsecondary data to improve student success.
The Department of Education rightfully has taken on the challenge of identifying student outcome measures that more accurately reflect student movement through and within the postsecondary system. Measures of progression and completion are particularly important in the absence of strong data on quality that measures student learning. The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System’s (IPEDS) Graduation Rate component (GR) serves an important purpose by measuring the likelihood that first‐time, full‐time students graduate at their first institution of enrollment. However, it does not capture the full diversity of today’s college students, nor does it reflect the variety of outcomes that students experience. A robust set of Outcome Measures (OMs) can fill these data gaps to provide a better understanding of student success, informing policy, consumer choice, and institutional improvement efforts.
To manage reporting burden and produce clear, consistent information, these Outcome Measures should align with the existing GR component and the IPEDS retention rate. Such alignment will reduce the need for institutions to specify multiple similar, yet different cohorts and outcomes, allowing the OM survey to replace the current GR and retention rate requirements. Table 1 and the discussion below summarize our proposed adjustments to the OM survey. In short, these recommendations:
- Align progress and outcome reporting across IPEDS components to produce clear, consistent results in one survey, reducing the burden associated with multiple surveys.
- Capture all students, all institutions, and all outcomes to illuminate student pathways more clearly and give institutions credit for the full breadth of student outcomes.
- Produce timelier outcome data to maintain relevance in discussions of policy and practice.
- Provide necessary demographic disaggregates to evaluate equity in student outcomes.
- These recommendations are grounded in research on voluntary data initiatives focused on postsecondary student success.
For a more detailed analysis and recommended improvements to IPEDS, see IHEP’s 2014 report, Mapping the Postsecondary Data Domain: Problems and Possibilities (and the associated technical report)...Read more.