Learning From Leading Universities
New Ed Trust Guide and Updated Web Tool Provide Institutions With Information to Help Improve Success for Low-Income Students and Students of Color
WASHINGTON — As college graduation season is upon us and the debate of institutional responsibility heats up, Ed Trust is releasing two resources to help institutional leaders working to improve success for all students: a new guide, profiling the use of data at four institutions leading the way in improvement for low-income and underrepresented minority (URM) students; and an updated version of our interactive web tool, College Results Online, which now includes new data on student financial outcomes.
The guide, Using Data to Improve Student Outcomes, highlights how four leading universities with marked improvements in student success (Florida State University, San Diego State University, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and Georgia State University) consistently review and use data to launch campus-wide initiatives, focus the entire college community on student success, and remove stubborn obstacles that impede large numbers of low-income students and URMs from graduating college with a degree in hand.
“As commencement ceremonies come to a close on many college campuses across the country, I cannot help but think about the large numbers of caps and gowns that are not donned — representing the thousands of low-income students and students of color who did not make it to their graduation day,” said Bonita J. Brown, J.D., director of higher education practice. “Universities must be intentional about improving their graduation numbers. Our guide points to the practices of leading universities that have used data to mobilize broad-scale action and dramatically improve student success for all students, particularly URMs and those from low-income households.”
The guide notes that while there is no single method that worked for every college, each of the universities transformed the use of data from primarily an exercise of compliance to a platform for action. Campus leaders accomplished this transformation by launching campus-wide improvement initiatives; modeling desired behavior at the top; assuring accessible, accurate, and effective data delivery; proactively analyzing student pathways; segmenting and customizing student services; and lastly, evolving a culture of inquiry and improvement. Each of these strategies are detailed in the guide.
University leaders and others concerned about improving student success can also turn to Ed Trust’s College Results Online. The interactive web tool has been refreshed with the latest data on college graduation rates and net price, and it now includes four new metrics on student outcomes for nearly every four-year college and university in the country. These metrics include: 10-year post-enrollment earnings of the 2001-2002 enrollment cohort, the percent of those earning more than $25,000 per year 10 years after entry, the median federal student loan debt of completers, and the loan repayment rate of students five years after completing.
“We are excited about the updated data and new financial metrics added to College Results Online,” said Andrew Nichols, Ph.D., director of higher education research and data analytics. “This tool allows university leaders and others to examine themselves against their peer institutions (i.e., similar institutions serving similar student demographics). We hope institutional leaders use these powerful comparisons to identify and learn from similar institutions that are getting better outcomes than they are.”
These tools, taken together, show members of the higher ed community that institutions serving similar students can, in fact, have vastly different results. Institutional leaders have a responsibility to use their own data and lessons learned from across the field to improve outcomes. These two resources can help them do just that.
The Education Trust is a nonprofit advocacy organization that promotes high academic achievement for all students at all levels, pre-kindergarten through college. Its goal is to close the gaps in opportunity and achievement that consign far too many young people — especially those from low-income families or who are black, Latino, or American Indian — to lives on the margins of the American mainstream. www.EdTrust.org/HigherEd