DEI and Student Success
Why Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?
“All learners.” These words in the National Student Clearinghouse® mission statement were not included as an afterthought. At the Clearinghouse — a nonprofit created by and for the higher education community — we are invested in seeing that all learners reach their full potential.
For decades, the Clearinghouse has collected education data and shared insights that shine a light on inequities in education. But especially after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted education nationwide — exacerbating disparities — we knew we had to do more to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in education.
“Providing all students an equal opportunity to reach their full potential helps not only the individuals but also society. The Clearinghouse has an obligation to keep finding better ways to use our data, tools, and partnerships to support these efforts.”
— Ricardo Torres, President and CEO, National Student Clearinghouse
National Student Clearinghouse and DEI
As a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, the Clearinghouse — in coordination with its National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™ — is uniquely positioned to leverage its comprehensive dataset and breadth of initiatives to become a convening point for solutions to address education inequities.
Efforts to close equity gaps are not new to the Clearinghouse, and we’ve become even more intentional in our DEI efforts in recent years. In the 2008–2009 academic year, we began collecting additional data that enabled us to analyze student success based on factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, and more. Starting in 2017, we expanded these efforts to include, for example, Pell Grant status through the Postsecondary Data Partnership (PDP). (See below for more on the PDP.) We have also collaborated extensively with equity-driven organizations like Complete College America, Excelencia in Education, and the Partnership for College Completion.
But we can do more. Moving forward, the Clearinghouse will expand our data collection to better inform our efforts to promote equity in education.
This website is just one part of an organization-wide strategy to advance DEI across the education landscape. Here’s a bit more about our ongoing commitment.
To start, the DEI Data Lab will highlight key DEI data insights and establish a network of advocates to share best practices. Over the longer term — guided by a diverse advisory council of DEI experts — we aim to make this site a collaborative platform that strengthens the education community’s understanding of DEI in education and provides actionable insights and resources to support education equity.
Data collection and analysis
In early 2022, the Clearinghouse established an Equity in Research and Analytics unit at its National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. This unit will investigate, establish, and drive forward the principles for an equitable, unbiased, and inclusive approach to data collection and analytics at the Clearinghouse. For more information on equitable data collection and analytics, visit the About Our Data Page.
Postsecondary Data Partnership
The PDP empowers colleges to measure, understand, and improve student outcomes and experiences — across multiple, intersecting identities and dimensions — by providing access to comprehensive data. Since the PDP’s inception in 2017, more than 700 colleges and universities have participated in the partnership. In August 2022, the Clearinghouse released its first PDP Insights report, which revealed gaps in credit accumulation and completion rates among first-year students across multiple dimensions, including gender, race/ethnicity, and enrollment intensity.
Over the past several years, the Clearinghouse has worked with more than a dozen nonprofits and other organizations to apply Clearinghouse data and research in equity-related projects. For example, we are actively working with Girls Who Code to study gender parity in STEM education. If you’re interested in partnering with us on a DEI–in–education initiative, contact us!
Documentation of all lifelong learning, including formal education, continuing studies, competency-based education, and career and technical training, can benefit people regardless of where they learn their skills. Compiling and maintaining a comprehensive learner record are especially important for members of vulnerable populations, who may not have a college degree.
To develop this more-comprehensive documentation, the Clearinghouse intends to expand its data collection and introduced new academic records, called learning and employment records. These records will include credentials and skills that people attain through lifelong learning and will help bridge the gap between learners’ and employers’ understanding of learners’ educational achievements by recognizing, recording, and sharing those achievements — regardless of where and when the learner accomplishes them.
Internally at the Clearinghouse
A meaningful dialogue requires a common understanding. In our workplace at the Clearinghouse, here’s how we define each component of DEI:
- Diversity – A broad array of differences in identity, perspective, skill, and style.
- Equity – Policies and practices that are fair, transparent, and consistent.
- Inclusion – An environment that actively welcomes, connects, and values everyone, while creating a sense of belonging and harming no one.
The Clearinghouse has always taken pride in its diverse workforce. We embrace DEI because it is vital to the success and growth of our organization. We strive for a work environment that accepts and represents everyone and where everyone feels included.
In 2021, we started working on a more comprehensive internal DEI strategy, partnering with DEI consulting firm Jennifer Brown Consulting to ensure a holistic, thoughtful approach. As of August 2022, this effort has included the following:
- 16 employees volunteered to serve on our DEI Guiding Team, providing critical input for our DEI strategy.
- Based, in part, on the DEI Guiding Team’s input, we developed the Clearinghouse DEI strategy and framework and shared these with employees.
- We established two workstreams — Community & Culture and People & Performance — and asked six leaders with various backgrounds and experiences to lead them.
The workstreams will guide the Clearinghouse’s internal DEI strategy with initiatives created to enhance our culture of inclusion and equity within our diverse workforce.
Learn More About Our DEI Efforts in Education
DEI Data Lab: About Our Data
National Student Clearinghouse data on student enrollment, academic progress, and educational outcomes is extensive. More than 3,600 colleges and universities, accounting for 97% of higher education enrollments in the United States, regularly submit their data to us.
Equity in Research & Analytics Unit
This unit was established by the Clearinghouse to develop and drive forward principles for an equitable, unbiased, and inclusive approach to data collection and analytics. The unit will also lead the organization’s effort to continually learn how to better reflect equity considerations in all data and analytics activities.
Opening the Door to Equity
In this panel discussion, leaders in higher education discuss the systemic inequities that exist in the lifelong learning process and how data can help democratize education. Additional topics include how data and technology can influence positive societal change by creating meaningful opportunities for all learners.