Commitment to “Culture of Continuous Improvement” Needed to Make Data Work to Improve Student Outcomes

April 5, 2019

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Title: Supporting Data-driven Continuous Improvement in College Student Outcomes

Source: The Institute for College Access and Success

The Institute for College Access and Success has published a report that attempts to understand how colleges and universities can best drive student success through data and evidence.

To answer this question, the organization conducted interviews with representatives from three higher education institutions that use data and evidence to improve student outcomes: Georgia State University, California State University at Sacramento, and Indian River State College (FL).

The interviews revealed three key lessons for college and university presidents:

  • Institutional culture and organization must support continuous improvement. For example, at all three institutions, individuals who lead data-driven success efforts hold cabinet-level positions.
  • Start with problems, not solutions. For this to work, institutions need to have accurate and robust centralized databases, as well as an awareness of how to use data effectively.
  • Colleges should devote resources to turning data insights into action. At the three institutions, the bulk of the money went towards student-related interventions. At Georgia State, 10 percent of the money went towards analyzing data; 90 percent went towards translating data into substantive actions.

The report also identified considerations for policymakers:

  • Federal, state, and accreditation agencies should be deliberate in their choice of reporting and funding metrics as institutional goals build on state and federal priorities and metrics.
  • Federal and state governments should develop strong student-level data networks.
  • The federal government should implement evidence-based innovation grants for colleges and universities.

To read the report, visit the Institute for College Access and Success’s website.

—Georgiana Mihut

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