Mapping Revisited: Next Steps for Mapping the Postsecondary Data Domain

Published Mar 01, 2015

by: Mamie Voight

Last year, IHEP tested the findings in its March 2014 report, Mapping the Postsecondary Data Domain, at six conferences and through individual conversations with postsecondary data experts. Throughout this post-Mapping conversation series, participants noted that the core measures in Mapping are important measures that policymakers, students, and institutions need to answer the most critical questions about student access, progression, completion, cost, and outcomes. Participants frequently emphasized several Mapping measures in particular – including college major (or program-level data), future income/post college earnings, transfer rates, outcomes of completers reported separately from non-completers, and completion rates for part-time and transfer students – indicating their importance in policy and practice work.

While participants generally agreed with the list of core measures in Mapping, some also noted omissions. These participants advocated for the inclusion of a number of student-centered measures in order to produce more complete data. The following were noted most frequently:

  • First generation status,
  • Living situation/commuter status,
  • Progression through the pipeline,
  • Annual and cumulative debt.

It is clear that we need a stronger data infrastructure to answer the questions that are critical to postsecondary students’ access and success, as well to drive federal, state, and institutional financial aid policymaking. Mapping represents a first step in propelling this dialogue. To address these ideas and challenges, IHEP is conducting a second round of research – including a convening of experts – on the nation’s postsecondary data infrastructure. This expert convening will examine the feasibility of several data system options against criteria such as timing, funding, privacy, security, comprehensiveness, consistency, flexibility, currency, reporting burden, and politics. IHEP also will tackle the challenge of defining the core Mapping data measures by leveraging the work of voluntary data initiatives and previous research, as well as the expertise of postsecondary data leaders.

View the PDF to read the full report.