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Better Data for Postsecondary Decision-making


June 6, 2014


Better Data for Postsecondary Decision-making

Student and parents are increasingly paying attention to postsecondary employment and earnings outcomes, and better and more transparent data is needed to help guide postsecondary decisions, reports a new publication from CLASP.

Extensive research has demonstrated that students consider their prospects for career success and earnings when making postsecondary decisions, according to CLASP. For instance, more than half of respondents in a 2013 Higher Education Research Institute survey said that a college's reputation for helping graduates to good jobs was one of the primary reasons they chose their school.

Authors Tim Harmon and Neil Ridley of CLASP, with Rachel Zinn from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign (ACTE and CLASP are partners in the WDQC), review the critical employment and earnings measures needed to demonstrate outcomes; the sources of this data, such as unemployment insurance wage records and Social Security Administration earnings data; and gaps in the data, including the current difficulty tracking students into employment in the field of study for which they trained. They also explore the need for cross-state data sharing and matching.

The report also provides examples of tools that are meeting this demand for outcomes information, including the New Jersey Consumer Report Card, the California Community Colleges online salary surfer and college wage tracker tools, and College Measures' research and interactive websites.

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