A new report released by the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO), which examined 59 data systems in 44 states and the District of Columbia, has found that not all postsecondary data systems are alike. Data systems are not comprehensive, and not all share the same data elements. Even more alarming is that only eight states have the capacity to link their K12, postsecondary, and workforce data systems. Strong Foundations: The State of State Postsecondary Data Systems describes existing state postsecondary student-level data systems and provides examples of how they have been used. Among the report’s key findings:
- Forty-four states and the District of Columbia have at least one student unit record system (for a total of 59 systems), while 29 states have between two and five systems.
- Nineteen states collect data from independent, nonprofit institutions.
- Seven states collect data from for-profit institutions.
- All 45 states collect student demographic and postsecondary enrollment data.
- Thirty-nine states link, share, and/or exchange data with other state agencies/entities.
- Of the 23 states that collect K–12 data elements, 20 have access to that data via a relationship with the state education agency (K–12); the other 3 collect these data directly from the students.
- Of the 26 states where the postsecondary agency/entity has a relationship with the state labor/workforce agency, 23 have access to workforce data elements and 3 provide postsecondary data to the workforce agency.
- Most states release aggregate data, and 27 states consider and approve requests for unit record data that are compliant with FERPA.