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The Postsecondary Data Partnership: Mobilizing for Student Success and Equity

by NSC Blog | Apr 27, 2021 | Postsecondary Data Partnership, Research Reports, Research Services, Transcript & Data Exchange Services |

Lisa Stich

Lisa Stich, Ph.D., Senior Specialist, Postsecondary Data Partnership, National Student Clearinghouse

By Lisa Stich, National Student Clearinghouse

The last year has been challenging for community colleges. College administrators have had to make numerous decisions without precedent or a playbook. And while prognostications of an influx of enrollment did not materialize, the expectations for increasing equity gaps in access and progression did, according to recent research reports from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

In these uncertain times, community colleges must act intentionally to ensure that both students and institutions thrive. Too often, education leaders receive disaggregated reports that offer no way to drill down using multiple student demographics. As a result, there is little ability to translate the data into meaningful insights around the multiplicity of characteristics students possess. Access to meaningful data is crucial to helping institutions make informed, data-driven decisions that support student success initiatives.

These insights are especially important in assisting students who face hurdles getting into and through college. Distinguishing and understanding data trends for low-income and first-generation students, students of color, and adult learners enables institutions to assess if their student success initiatives are working as well as target improvement practices that are not working for subpopulations who need additional support. The key is for institutions to have data that allow them to mobilize action around access, progression, and equitable success.

The Postsecondary Data Partnership (PDP), the latest innovative service from the National Student Clearinghouse, is a transformative tool for measuring institutional outcomes and growing student success. It offers dashboards built from a comprehensive data set that utilizes new data and data already collected by the Clearinghouse to populate 15 dashboards that employ dynamic visualizations to make it easier to identify critical insights.

The dashboards are based on a national model of key performance indicators that target the most useful metrics to improve student success. They combine traditional lagging indicators of various outcomes with leading indicators that focus on early momentum metrics. Several dashboards even include benchmarking: the ability to compare one institution’s metrics with similar institutions nationwide.

The true power of the PDP is realized in the multitude of filters that can be applied simultaneously (e.g., starting term, age, gender, race/ethnicity, first-generation status, Pell status, math and/or English readiness) to see the deep, disaggregated intersectionality of the data to depict subpopulations who are succeeding or struggling.

The partnership is dedicated to the idea that easier access to better data helps higher education professionals develop actionable insights and make informed decisions to support student success. The PDP works with the entire higher education ecosystem and with numerous partners, such as Achieving the Dream, Excelencia, Complete College America, regional accreditors, and more, to provide additional supports to institutions doing this difficult work. With 450 institutions currently on board, the PDP ecosystem is growing rapidly. In these uncertain times, when expectations have never been higher and future behaviors of students less certain, having the data to mobilize action is more important than ever.

To learn more and get your institution involved, contact me!

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