News & Events / “It’s One Thing to Have Data. It’s Another to Have Data that Sparks Focused Action and Tangible Change to Improve Lives.”*

“It’s One Thing to Have Data. It’s Another to Have Data that Sparks Focused Action and Tangible Change to Improve Lives.”*

Published Jun 29, 2022

Postsecondary and workforce practitioners from Arkansas, Indiana, and Kentucky join forces with the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), the Coleridge Initiative, and Insight Policy Research (Westat Insight) for the inaugural cohort of the Value Data Collaborative to improve student outcomes, inform policymaking, and promote a just society through postsecondary data. 

WASHINGTON, DC (June 29, 2022) – “Use data to create positive change.” “Collaborate with real data.” “Data that leads to action.” “Make data meaningful.” “Reduce riskiness for students.” “Fueling a movement!” These were some of the phrases data experts and advocates across the country shared when a group gathered earlier this month to launch an effort to leverage the best available postsecondary data in order to yield the best possible results for students, their families and communities, postsecondary institutions, our nation’s workforce, and our country as a whole.

Called the Postsecondary Value Data Collaborative (or “VDC”), the group includes participants from state agencies in Arkansas, Indiana, and Kentucky, who will work alongside experts at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) to implement a cutting-edge framework to understand current higher education and workforce outcomes and better inform policymaking within each state. The Coleridge Initiative, which runs the Administrative Data Research Facility (ADRF), will provide the data infrastructure for the group, while Insight Policy Research (Westat Insight) will serve as the VDC’s analytic lead.

The state teams’ work and the research agenda will be supported by the Equitable Value Advisory Board, a group of postsecondary researchers, practitioners, and other experts who are at the forefront of the burgeoning equitable value movement. David Troutman, Chief Data Officer and Associate Vice Chancellor of Institutional Research and Analysis at the University of Texas System (UT System), will serve as the VDC’s inaugural Equitable Value Fellow to champion this work based on his experience leading similar efforts in the UT System. Based on their findings over the next seven months, participants in this voluntary effort may extend or refine the Postsecondary Value Framework, an evidence-based, consensus-driven measurement approach released last year with state- and credential specific thresholds that contextualize earnings outcomes while appropriately incorporating student investment.

“We are energized by the dedication and commitment of our state partners in Arkansas, Indiana, and Kentucky, and thrilled by their shared enthusiasm for using reliable data to make our nation’s system of postsecondary education the strongest and most equitable it can be,” shared Mamie Voight, IHEP’s president and CEO. “We know postsecondary education has the power to spur economic and social mobility for all students, but especially Black, Hispanic and/or Latinx, Indigenous, underrepresented Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students, students from low-income backgrounds, and women. Together, VDC participants are galvanizing the Equitable Value Movement, a nationwide endeavor to ensure that postsecondary education lives up to its potential to deliver critical economic and non-economic benefits to individual students and their families, bolster our workforce, strengthen our communities, and build a just and fair future for all of us.”

“Arkansas is proud to be a member of the Postsecondary Value Data Collaborative. This collaborative will strengthen our existing strategic initiatives, the accuracy of those initiatives, and our ability to invalidate misconceptions about the value of higher education in Arkansas,” said Mason Campbell, Assistant Director for Policy and Student Success, Arkansas Division of Higher Education. “Our desired impact on underserved populations in Arkansas hinges on our ability to clearly identify challenges and reexamine policy and practice to promote change; the VDC will unquestionably enhance our success. We are excited to share the work we already have in motion to provide equitable access to quality programming that meets workforce demands and strengthens the economic value of all levels of credentialing across the state. It is a privilege to work alongside Indiana, Kentucky, IHEP, and The Coleridge Initiative to eliminate completion gaps and advance outcomes across the nation.”

“In Indiana, we know the importance of postsecondary education and the need to better understand college outcomes to ensure our students are served equitably,” said Sean Tierney, Associate Commissioner and Chief Economist, Indiana Commission for Higher Education. “The VDC will help us measure and monitor our data with these goals in mind, and guide us to drive meaningful change for the students in our state and for generations to come.”

“Rising skepticism about the value of higher education is occurring at exactly the wrong moment, when automation is eliminating rote jobs and the demand for knowledge workers is at an all-time high,” said Dr. Aaron Thompson, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education in Kentucky. “Kentucky is excited to participate in this effort to gain a deeper understanding of how college credentials affect future employment and earnings, and to translate these data into messages that will resonate with low-income and minoritized Kentuckians, especially.”

Over the past several years, the field of postsecondary education has shifted from a focus on college completion to a focus on completion and value. Through this shift, experts have grappled with ways to measure students’ return on investment, often in the context of a particular institution and a particular program. The VDC builds on these efforts by centering equity within its measurement framework, accounting for historical inequities in access to postsecondary education, the role of labor market discrimination in disparate outcomes, and the full cost to students of their postsecondary education. In 2021, the University of Texas (UT) System modeled this approach using data from the state and system. States participating in the VDC will build upon this foundational analysis, implement the approach with their state data to refine understanding in their context, and use the findings to inform student-centered improvements to postsecondary policy and practice.

*Attribute to Archie L. Holmes, Jr., Ph.D., Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, The University of Texas System.


About the Institute for Higher Education Policy

The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research, policy, and advocacy organization committed to promoting postsecondary access and success for all students, regardless of race, background, or circumstance. Established in 1993, IHEP provides timely, evidence-based, and student-centered research to inform policy decisions and address our nation’s most pressing education challenges. Visit to learn more about IHEP’s research, leadership, and experts.

About the Arkansas Division of Higher Education (ADHE)

The Arkansas Division of Higher Education (ADHE) serves as the administrative staff for the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The staff is responsible for developing and implementing board policies and procedures. Additionally, ADHE administers statewide financial aid programs; recommends institutional operating, capital, and personal services budgets; facilitates policy development and implementation related to the Coordinating Board’s statutory responsibilities and major public policy initiatives, including review of new and existing academic programs for public colleges and universities; coordinates transfer and articulation; provides support to business and industry and professional development for faculty and staff; coordinates government relations, legislative advocacy activities and serves as a liaison to the Arkansas General Assembly, the governor’s office, and other public entities; and collects and reports on student and course data as part of a statewide database and academic program inventory for policy studies.

About the Indiana Commission for Higher Education

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education is a 14-member public body created in 1971 to define the missions of Indiana’s colleges and universities, plan and coordinate the state’s postsecondary education system, administer state financial aid, and ensure that Indiana’s higher education system is aligned to meet the needs of students and the state.

About the Council on Postsecondary Education (Kentucky) 

The Council on Postsecondary Education is Kentucky’s higher education coordinating agency committed to strengthening our workforce, economy and quality of life. We do this by guiding the continuous improvement and efficient operation of a high-quality, diverse and accessible system of postsecondary education. Key responsibilities include:

  • Developing and implementing a strategic agenda for postsecondary education that includes measures of progress.
  • Producing and submitting a biennial budget request for adequate state funding of postsecondary education.
  • Determining tuition rates and admission criteria at public postsecondary institutions.
  • Collecting and distributing data about postsecondary education performance.
  • Ensuring the coordination and connectivity of technology among public institutions.
  • Licensing non-public postsecondary institutions to operate in the Commonwealth.