The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) is committed to sharing new research on best-in-class metrics that can be used to improve student outcomes in higher education.
To support this effort, IHEP has produced Toward Convergence: A Technical Guide for the Postsecondary Metrics Framework, a companion piece to a report released in February by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Answering the Call, which proposed a new metrics framework to measure the performance of higher education institutions.
As an organization focused on policy- and practice-oriented research that informs public policy decisions and improves student outcomes, IHEP's new report is critical to institutions and policymakers as they develop better metrics for measuring postsecondary performance and progress. The work is especially crucial for the low-income and underrepresented student populations who historically have been left out of or are invisible in our higher education system and data collections.
Drawing on lessons learned from a decade of efforts to collect and use better data, Toward Convergence provides important, foundational details that support and build on the findings outlined in Answering the Call and enumerates the technical details of the metrics framework. In particular: Postsecondary education currently is data rich but information poor, and improving data collection and use is imperative to reaching our collective postsecondary attainment goals.
IHEP analyzed the metrics and definitions used by institutional and state initiatives, along with data specifications in national data collections, to identify points of consensus in the field. The resulting key metrics fall into three major categories:
- Performance metrics measure institutional performance related to student access, progress, completion, cost, and post-college outcomes.
- Driven by increased interest in college costs and affordability, efficiency measures consider how resources impact college completion.
- Equity measures seek to include all students and accurately represent the higher education experience of populations that are underserved and may have been "invisible" in other data collections.
Toward Convergence is just the beginning of a long-term effort to improve higher education's data infrastructure. Over the long-term, IHEP, through the Postsecondary Data Collaborative, will act as the convener of ongoing advocacy and information-sharing, working with partners to encourage institutions and policymakers to adopt the metrics framework as best practice nationwide.