Icons that denote 5 best practices related to postsecondary disseminationStates use postsecondary outcomes data for many purposes, including understanding where students go after high school; connecting students’ high school achievement to postsecondary and workforce success; assessing the impact of educational programs on student outcomes; and identifying achievement gaps among different student groups.

This information can help states to effectively support districts and schools to use data to develop and adjust programs for students that positively impact their postsecondary outcomes. This data is particularly important to achieving equitable outcomes for Black, Latinx, low-income, and other historically disadvantaged students as the data offers a focused understanding of the unique challenges these students encounter when navigating transitions to higher education and the workforce.

States have been investing in resources and tools to make data, including some postsecondary outcomes data, available in the public domain. State education agencies generally collect and report postsecondary data in response to federal reporting requirements. However, some states are expanding their data systems, resources, and tools to include more postsecondary outcomes data. This includes providing postsecondary outcomes data in ways that a state’s schools and districts can use for program identification, evaluation, and policymaking to improve postsecondary success. The main source for state postsecondary outcomes data is the National Student Clearinghouse. Some states also connect to their postsecondary data systems to get data on in-state institutions of higher education and their workforce data systems to get state labor and workforce data.

QIP developed a best practice guide on using postsecondary outcomes data, developed through a series of focus groups and interviews conducted with states that are in different stages of using postsecondary outcomes data, including making this data available to districts. These conversations provided information on five best practices that states can use to support the use of postsecondary outcomes data.

Identified Best Practices:

  1. Promote a responsible data-sharing culture
  2. Connect data from multiple sources
  3. Develop data resources and tools
  4. Provide ongoing and adaptive support to schools and districts
  5. Establish communities of practice

For more information, please see our areas of focus page on the importance of postsecondary pathways data. 

Meet Alexandra Henning, Senior Research Analyst