Using and Sharing Data to Improve Postsecondary Success

With support from Lumina Foundation, NLC's Institute for Youth, Education and Families has developed a new series of publications highlighting city strategies to increase local college completion rates.  The series includes three municipal action guides on the following topics:

Also with support from Lumina Foundation, NLC commissioned an analysis by Professor Kenneth K. Wong of Brown University on the role that mayors are playing to support college access and completion in their cities.

In the last few years, municipal leaders in more than a dozen cities have launched new, multi-sector collaborations to dramatically increase the proportion of residents in their communities who obtain postsecondary degrees and credentials.  City officials are increasingly focused on postsecondary success as a core component of their economic development strategies.

To measure and sustain progress in formulating solutions, policymakers not only need to understand the overall enrollment and completion picture, but also require a range of program- and system-level data on the contribution of various factors to low completion rates. In many locales, these data prove challenging to obtain and interpret.

The third guide in the series, Using and Sharing to Improve Postsecondary Success, suggests a sequence of action steps that municipal leaders can take to understand college access and success rates in their cities, including where students exit the educational pipeline and what factors appear to affect student outcomes. The publication offers guidance on various data sources that cities can use to establish baseline measures and set ambitious goals for improvement. 

Key action steps described in the guide include:

  • Conduct an inventory of key data resources, exploring opportunities to strengthen local data capacity and facilitate data sharing;
  • Determine baseline measures of postsecondary success;
  • Conduct a "loss point" analysis; and
  • Establish ambitious goals and issue public reports on progress.