Achieving the Dream approaches our data work with the belief that it requires taking a hard look at how people, processes, and systems are working together to make data-informed decisions. We use data to drive our work to innovate and offer new supports and services, and our coaches work closely with ATD Network colleges to integrate data into their work to better support student completion.
Colleges that effectively use data see dramatic gains in student success. Odessa College (next page), one of two 2018 Leah Meyer Austin Award winners, developed data-driven supports over five years to dramatically improve student success. In 2018, ATD Tribal Colleges and Universities, who were new to the Network at the time, used data to identify at-risk students and to begin to target interventions.
Our 2018 Data and Analytics Summit adopted the theme Mind the Data Gap in an effort to focus attention on the critical role data plays in reducing the student achieving gap. Minding the data gap means taking the steps necessary to improve all students’ experiences from first contact to career. It includes narrowing the gap between student and alumni data, and using alumni data to describe the value of a community college degree. The equity gap requires us to disaggregate data, making all student populations visible and creating momentum for the change that can improve all student outcomes. And minding the data gap between leading and lagging indicators of student success can confirm progress or suggest short corrections. ATD Data Coaches will continue to guide colleges in the development, analysis and use of student outcomes data as we innovate in the ways we use student-level data.
GATES FOUNDATION GRANT TO LEAD TO IMPROVED STUDENT PROGRESS AND COMPLETION DATA
Thanks to support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Achieving the Dream will be able to support colleges in learning to gather and report additional metrics associated with student success and improve the quality of the data reports and dashboards provided to the colleges to promote data-informed decision-making.
This work increases ATD’s participation in the Postsecondary Data Partnership (PDP), an effort to facilitate better outcomes for all students by helping colleges capture and use more comprehensive data about student progress, early momentum, and degree completion while creating efficiencies and reducing duplicative data submissions at the state and national levels.
The National Student Clearinghouse, the PDP’s lynchpin, is working to increase its capacity to collect, verify, and report back to colleges an expanded set of data in easier-to-use formats that could inform new or improved practices directly focused on student needs. Most postsecondary institutions, including many ATD Network colleges, already report basic student-level data on metrics such as student enrollments and degree completions to the Clearinghouse. The PDP requires colleges to submit two additional files to the Clearinghouse which will yield eight key performance indicator reports on enrollment, gateway course completion, credit accumulation rate, credit completion ratio, outcome completion, retention/persistence, credentials conferred and time to credential.
Leah Meyer Austin Award winner Odessa College has a student body that is 58 percent Hispanic. As with many higher education institutions, Odessa College experienced an equity gap in graduation rates between students of color and White students. In 2009, only 10 percent of Hispanic students graduated in three years, compared to 14 percent of White students. As it began its work with Achieving the Dream, Odessa immediately began working with a Data Coach in order to better understand what it needed to change.
Understanding their data led Odessa College to create the Drop Rate Improvement Program, through which faculty implement specific classroom practices that increase a student’s connection to the course. Odessa created a new dean of teaching and learning position to support instructors, and faculty now receive real-time data on each of their students that enables them to make data-informed decisions about how to improve their approach to educating students. By 2014, the three-year graduation rate for Hispanic students rose to 25 percent, entirely eliminating the achievement gap and outpacing White students, who also saw impressive graduate rate increases.