How High Schools and College Can Share Data for Student Success

Posted by Jobs for the Future on August 15, 2016

New Report Wants Data to Connect High School, Higher Ed

As many NCAN members are unfortunately aware, the secondary and postsecondary education environments are often disconnected, partially or entirely, with both sides pointing the finger about who is responsible for students’ success. Indeed, this disconnect and lack of collaboration is what makes the college access and success field so unique: many programs have a foot in both worlds. A new Jobs for the Future report, written by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform’s Michael Grady, argues that data can be the connecting element between high schools and colleges.

The report, the first in a series, “encourages high schools and higher education to share responsibility for improving college completion rates by co-designing, co-delivering, and co-validating supportive experiences for all 12th-grade students through the first year of college, especially those who so often struggle in this period.” These guiding principles of co-design, co-delivery, and co-validation are intended to squash the finger pointing and ensure that both high schools and colleges have a hand in the practices that lead students to success.

The concept of using data to connect secondary and postsecondary actors isn’t a particularly new one. The report draws on lessons from philanthropic efforts from the last decade, including Lumina Foundation’s Community Partnership for Attainment (CPA), which includes NCAN members, the Gates Foundation’s Leaky Pipeline Project and College Readiness Indicator Systems Initiative, and the Citi Foundation’s Postsecondary Success Collaborative.

Out of these initiatives, the report identifies four “essential elements for effective data collaboration”:

  • Securing broad-based leadership support
  • Building cross-sector data infrastructure
  • Strengthen staff capacity to use data effectively
  • Forge strategic partnerships among K-12, higher education and community organizations

For each of these steps, key lessons and promising practices are provided. The report also includes a section on how to build and sustain postsecondary data collaborations. Here, Grady suggests that postsecondary actors may need to “step up”: “If we aspire to long-term, productive partnerships between K-12 and higher education, the impetus may well need to come from postsecondary institutions, given their greater inherent interest in college completion and their deeper knowledge about how to help students on their campuses succeed.”

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