News & Media

Executive Director’s Note

By Julia Michaels

Data has been at the heart of the Powered by Publics initiative since we launched. To help measure our network’s progress on equity and degree completion goals, we collect data annually through our Core Data Metrics process. On Monday, we launched the 2022 collection period, which will be open through September 30.

The Core Data Metrics track institution-level data for eight measures, disaggregated by 15 student subgroups, that contribute to the analysis of our collective progress in supporting student success. This has allowed us to report progress for the entire network as we did late last year. Among other things, our report showed retention at Powered by Publics members increased by 2 percent for all undergraduates, by 4 percent for Black students, and by 3 percent for Latinx students from Fall 2018-Fall 2019. However, we still have more work to do in closing equity gaps for completion, which widened by 1 and 2 percentage points respectively for Black and Latinx students.

In addition to reporting progress, we want to put this data to work for your universities. Your cluster manager has shared PDFs of the Core Data Metrics for your individual institution and cluster alongside the national benchmark. Additionally, if your institution is a subscriber to VSA Analytics, you’ll be able to actively interact with the data, including creating custom peer groups for benchmarking with other institutions. If your university is not a subscriber but wants to become one, please let us know by emailing CDM@aplu.org.

On the topic of data, last month I participated in a Chronicle of Higher Education panel alongside Matthew Rust of IUPUI and Dhanfu E. Elston of College Complete America exploring how institutions can better leverage their data to advance equity and student success. Making data actionable is increasingly important to institutions and requires digging deep into course level data, as well as disaggregating by racial and ethnic groups.

As we know, higher education is awash in data, but institutions need new approaches to help better use it. A lack of data literacy across all parts of campus is one significant barrier to more effective use. That’s why early this week we announced five new institutions will join our Data Literacy Institute, a collaboration between Powered by Publics and the Association for Institutional Research (AIR), to convene cross-functional teams in learning to better use data to improve student outcomes. We hope the Data Literacy Institute will be a sustainable resource we can scale; this is just a pilot.

I’m delighted to highlight some of the other updates in our newsletter this week:

  • APLU & AIR Announce a New Data Literacy Institute Cohort to Advance Data Capacity and Student Success on Campus
  • A learning exchange post on how the Western Coalition’s Faculty Learning Community is Advancing Equity.
  • A recording of a Chronicle of Higher Education Webinar featuring me, IUPUI’s Matthew Rust, and other higher education leaders.
  • And a host of new resources for supporting student belonging and success in the classroom from the Student Experience Project.
  • Powered by Publics

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