Institutions Produce Actionable Data

Jenna Leventoff
March 15, 2017

Data can help students succeed. The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) and the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) show this in 14 recently released case studies, describing how higher education institutions are using student-level data to produce actionable information that improves student decision making and outcomes.  

One case study features the University of Texas (UT) System, which partnered with the Texas Workforce Commission to find employment and earnings information about past students. UT uses this data to produce a free online tool, called seekUT, which helps potential students with college and career planning. The tool shows information that will help students consider the costs and benefits of institutions and programs, including the median loan debt of past students, and median earnings of graduates one, five, and 10 years after graduation. The tool also shows industries that are employing UT graduates, so that potential students can seek out high-demand career paths.

Furthermore, Miami Dade College (MDC), the nation’s largest community college, uses data to develop targeted interventions to help students succeed. Influenced by the state’s performance-based funding law, which funds community colleges, in part, based upon job placement and wage rates of graduates, MDC now tracks student employment and entry-level wage rates of students who complete their studies. It establishes cohorts of students starting in a particular semester, and continues to track their status every semester, for eight years. By doing this, MDC can take lessons learned from past trends and apply them toward targeted interventions to help current and future students succeed.

Ultimately, these case studies reveal how data can directly impact student success during and after programs of study. They are intended to illustrate the importance of state longitudinal data systems, as well as more complete national data about postsecondary students.

WDQC has vocally supported both state longitudinal data systems and the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, which would lift the ban on a federal student record system, thus enabling better national data about postsecondary students.