While Congress debates the appropriate role for the federal government in helping students get information about college, states are stepping up to provide important data on postsecondary education outcomes.
A growing number of state websites show information about postsecondary program costs, graduation rates, average debt, and average post-program earnings. These websites are designed to help students, families, and workers make decisions about colleges and careers.
In some states, publicizing this information is required by law. A new infographic from Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC), a project of National Skills Coalition, highlights state legislative models.
Minnesota, for example, has a law that requires colleges to report data to the state. Using this data, state agencies created the Graduate Employment Outcomes tool. It shows hourly wages one, two, and four years after graduation, as well as industries and regions of employment for graduates by school, degree, and major. Agency leaders conduct outreach to high school to help counselors and students use the tool.
To get information about what happens to graduates in the labor market, states match student records reported by colleges with data about employment and wages collected as part of the Unemployment Insurance program. This data matching allows a more accurate picture of graduates’ employment than alumni surveys.
WDQC encourages states to develop scorecards showing postsecondary education program results in its State Blueprint. In addition, the State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP) at National Skills Coalition works intensively with selected states (California, Mississippi, Ohio, Rhode Island) to develop scorecards and other data tools.
The U.S. Department of Education currently provides a College Scorecard for all schools nationwide, and Congress is considering whether to require this type of effort in law. The bipartisan Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, proposed in both the House and Senate, would mandate federal student data system, data matching, and reporting on education and employment outcomes.