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Better, More Accessible Data on DEI Educational Trends May Help Boost Graduation Rates

by NSC Blog | Apr 10, 2023 | Clearinghouse News, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, Research Reports, Research Services |

Clearinghouse’s DEI Data Lab Provides Insight to Help Institutions

Change can’t happen without data.

We need to know where we’re at before we can determine where we need to go and how to put strategies in place to get there. That’s the intent behind the National Student Clearinghouse’s DEI Data Lab, which launched this January. This new website’s goal is to share information more widely on trends, equity gaps, and a deeper dive into metrics on enrollment, persistence, and completion.

As Jill Barshay writes in an article for The Hechinger Report: “Earning a college degree involves two steps: starting college and finishing college.” Prior to the pandemic, Black, Hispanic, and white students were enrolling at about the same rates, she says. Where their education diverged was whether they stayed in school and eventually graduated.

Every race and ethnicity has seen gains in graduation rates; however, racial gaps proliferate. The pandemic and a healthy job market had an impact. As Barshay notes: “When jobs are plentiful, many low-income students may join the labor force and defer their higher education.” This is especially true among Black and Hispanic students.

Clearinghouse data paints a grim picture: in 2022, enrollment declined for all ethnicities, but Black student enrollment declined by 44%. Looking in the rearview mirror often offers insights that come too late—once the pipeline of students shrinks so does the number of future graduates, with significant societal impacts.

“Fewer students at college now certainly means fewer college-educated adults in the years ahead. Ant that is not a promising future,” Barshay writes.

To help inform the public, the Clearinghouse’s DEI Data Lab, funded through financial support from the Cognizant Foundation, will provide a starting point for better understanding equity gaps, bringing together key stakeholders in collaboration to identify the drivers of low enrollment and disengagement, and the best practices that can help to close gaps and boost the number of graduates over time. Learn more about the DEI Data Lab!