| May 21, 2012
by Jen Donovan
The US Department of Education has created a plan to more accurately report measures student success in postsecondary education. The current law only requires institutions to report the graduation rates of full-time, first time students. This leaves out a large number of part-time students and students who have previously attended postsecondary school.
According to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, “Not all students take a linear path in their pursuit of higher education. Many students work full-time and are balancing family obligations while also attending school. These new outcome measures will accurately demonstrate how postsecondary schools are preparing students for success in different ways.”
The plan, entitled “Action Plan for Improving Measures of Postsecondary Success,” is in response to a report by the Committee on Measures of Student Success who help two-year degree granting institutions comply with the law’s disclosure requirements and help to develop alternate measures of student success that are comparable to completion and graduation rates. The action plan is designed to improve the quality and availability of student success data at the federal level for consumers, institutions, policymakers, and researchers. The plan also includes activities and some funding opportunities to help schools and states strengthen their capacity to collect and disseminate quality data.
The following activities will be implemented in the plan:
- Developing easy-to-use templates that institutions can use to meet the HEOA disclosure requirements;
- Making improved data collection and reporting a focus in its postsecondary education initiatives and grant programs;
- Continuing to provide incentive funding to strengthen states’ data infrastructures through Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) grants, which will award round five recipients this spring;
- Convening a summit this year to highlight promising practices in the collection and dissemination of data related to student success, such as student learning and employment.
The Department of Education also recommends that these broader measures of student success be implemented in four year institutions as well. Duncan is in agreement: “Better data across institutions is the basis for finding sound solutions to help students stay in school and complete their postsecondary studies. It is critical to their success and our nation’s economic prosperity.”
Jen Donovan is the strategic communications intern at the International Reading Association.