Providing K-12 School Districts with College Ready Data
By Timothy T. Eagen
Preparing students to be “college ready” is a shared focus and goal of public schools in New York State. As a school superintendent, what I want most is actionable feedback data so that we can improve. Our current data system does not provide this.
While the phrase “college ready” is often used, there is no quantitative commonly accepted operational definition for this phrase, nor are the factors and variables that foster college readiness well known. The quantitative work group of the Long Island Regional Advisory Council on Higher Education (LIRACHE) recently worked to establish a shared definition for “college readiness.” Their definition is as follows:
College readiness is defined as a high school graduate ready to enroll and be successful in credit-bearing courses in mathematics and English Language Arts at a higher education institution. Students that need (or are required) to be enrolled into a remedial noncredit-bearing course are not college ready.
Our Regional Information Centers (RICS) across New York have done a tremendous job supplying districts with usable and actionable data. Through our RICs, school districts are able to access National Student Clearninghouse data (http://www.studentclearinghouse.org/ ). Through some level of “data gymnastics,” Clearninghouse data can be connected with other state and school district student data to produce helpful feedback for school districts. While helpful, Clearninghouse data are often delayed, incomplete, and inadequate to foster change on the K-12 level. Referring back to the definition of college readiness above, the Clearinghouse data do not provide public school districts with true college readiness feedback, specifically (1) how students achieved in college courses, and (2) which students needed to enroll in remedial courses. Thus, Clearinghouse data are helpful but insufficient to foster change.
Some public school districts have been successful in working with individual colleges and universities to obtain some true college readiness data. These school districts should be applauded for their work in navigating various barriers. In the interest of college readiness for ALL students, a uniform system should be developed to provide true college readiness data for all school districts. Colleges and universities currently report certain aggregate and student-level data to NYSED. It may be possible to work from what exists, while simultaneously developing a P-20 data collection and reporting system. This would be a huge step forward and provide public school districts with actionable college ready data and feedback that is needed to improve.