Envisioning Postsecondary Data

Christina Pena
May 18, 2016

A paper series released today on Envisioning the National Postsecondary Data Infrastructure provides recommendations to strengthen data needed to improve student success, including federal and state policy reforms that would leverage employment data to measure post-college labor market outcomes.

Through its Postsecondary Data Collaborative, the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) engaged leading experts to address problems with disconnected, duplicative, and incomplete postsecondary data systems. The resulting papers offer complementary recommendations on topics including state data systems, student financial aid information, and protecting privacy and security.

"College to Career: Leveraging Employment Data to Measure Labor Market Outcomes," authored by WDQC Director Rachel Zinn, assesses the current landscape of employment data. The report proposes technical enhancements to help agencies and institutions more effectively collect and share information, and provides policy recommendations to better inform students and other key stakeholders.

Authors will discuss their reports during an event in Washington, DC, which will be webcast starting at 12:30 p.m. today. Key recommendations that emerged across the papers include:

  • All approaches must work together to improve our data infrastructure – there is no silver bullet
  • Improve linkages between existing datasets
  • Continue federal funding of data system improvements
  • Improve the quality of postsecondary metrics
  • Require new data elements; eliminate others
  • Improve access to data, as appropriate
  • Clarify legal barriers to promote data use while maintaining adequate protections
  • Keep individual data private and secure

In the coming months, WDQC will work with Postsecondary Data Collaborative and other partners to mobilize support for selected policies highlighted in the paper series, with the goal of turning research into policy impact.