Colleges Use Data for Improvement

by Rachel Zinn
May 19, 2015

Community college leaders shared their experiences using data to assess performance and improve programs at the National Benchmarking Conference in Overland Park, Kansas last week.

Examples of data use included:

Use of Labor Market Information. Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City uses a combination of federal and state survey data, information pulled from on-line job postings, and input from regional employers to identify occupations that pay high wages and are in-demand. Analyzing these data sources is a key step in the college’s process for deciding whether to start new career and technical education programs in particular fields.

State Longitudinal Data Systems. In Michigan, an online portal allows registered users at community colleges to access information on current or former students from the state’s longitudinal data system. Washtenaw Community College built a Course Transfer Tool that uses this data to track the transfer patterns, course selections, and passage rates of their former students at any other public college or university in the state. This tool can help colleges modify course offerings and curricula so they best address student needs. 

Assessing Employment Outcomes. Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland uses wage record data to examine the employment and earnings of graduates from different programs in an effort to understand which types of certificates and degrees are leading to good jobs. The college also uses dashboards to analyze student success.