New report on scarcity of “useful” postsecondary data details what questions students need answers to

questions-school-collegePostsecondary data should be able to answer certain questions, not only for higher-ed institutions, but for prospective students and the community, according to a new report. It’s up to national databases to help combat rising college costs and stagnating rates of completion through better collection and dissemination of data, the report notes.

The report, “Mapping the Postsecondary Data Domain: Problems and Possibilities,” produced by the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, asserts that seemingly straightforward questions such as which students have access to which colleges can’t easily be answered with currently available data.

“A careful mapping of federal data systems against these questions shows that while we have a solid base of understanding in some areas, we fall far short in others,” notes the report.

And though many voluntary data initiatives have arisen in recent years to help fill these gaps, the report emphasizes that there is still a ways to go before critical questions are answered.

(Next page: 4 questions institutions must answer)

Meris Stansbury

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