On October 5, 2011 College Summit and the Data Quality Campaign co-hosted a Washington, D.C. event highlighting the need for more postsecondary education data and the progress states have made in meeting that need. According to an October 6th article in Education Week online, congressional representatives from both sides of the aisle, educators, and non-profit leaders participated in the event and discussed the importance of using data to support the college- and career-ready component of the education reform agenda. As part of the event, College Summit released a white paper titled Seizing the Measurement Moment: Why Now Is the Time for States to Help High Schools Get the Postsecondary Data They Need and Want. The Executive Summary of the white paper asserts that city mayors, business leaders, educators, and parents are “crying out” for state investments in reports for high schools on their students’ postsecondary performance, “answering the critical questions: Do students enroll in a postsecondary institution? Do they pass their non-remedial courses? In which academic areas are they thriving, or struggling?…Without this information, high schools are handicapped in their ability to prepare students for college and career.” According to the white paper, college enrollment has increased over the last decade; but, once in college, students have failed at alarming rates, particularly low-income students.
In order to better prepare high school students for the rigor of college level work, high schools need to know what is and isn’t working; according to the white paper, superintendents, principals, and teachers in most communities have almost no information about this. Because the goal has shifted from merely high school graduation to postsecondary success, high schools need new strategies to obtain systematic information as to whether their students are in fact ready for college. The white paper makes the case that it is up to the individual states to make this happen by investing in statewide P-16 longitudinal data systems. All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico committed to establishing such systems in order to receive funding under the federal State Fiscal Stabilizations Funds program. Investments in these systems should be maximized to provide K-12 educators with essential feedback from postsecondary institutions regarding students’ academic progress, while respecting state and federal student privacy law. The white paper concludes that “thanks to federal support, most states have already begun the hard work of building the infrastructure … all that remains is to finish the systems and share, translate, and reward smart use of the data.”
The white paper is available on the College Summit Web site at www.collegesummit.org.
PCG Education is able to provide state and local education agencies with longitudinal data systems to collect student academic data through college, and the professional consulting expertise to assist the agencies in sharing and translating the data consistent with state and federal standards.