New Report Offers Colleges and Policymakers a Playbook for Using Large-Scale Data Systems to Boost Completion and Outcomes

Complete College America report offers recommendations for how colleges can build and sustain unified data systems to measure, compare and improve student outcomes

Indianapolis, April 20, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Complete College America (CCA), a national non-profit organization on a mission to raise postsecondary attainment in the United States, today released a new guidebook on how states and institutions can use national and homegrown data and measurement tools to improve completion rates, close institutional performance gaps, and increase economic mobility for historically-excluded students. Entitled "Using a Measurement System to Strengthen Student Success Reforms”, the report provides step-by-step guidance and tools that states and institutional leaders can use as they work to build internal data teams and create national and homegrown measurement systems to increase student success. 

"Colleges today are awash in data about the student experience and outcomes, but merely collecting and analyzing data on student success isn’t enough. Ultimately, it’s about building and sustaining a culture of data and measurement," said Dr. Yolanda Watson-Spiva, President of Complete College America. "This report lays out practical tools and guidance for states and institutions to develop measurement systems that will help them identify areas for improvement and take collective action to support student success.” 

The release of the new report comes at a time of declining enrollment and retention across much of the higher education landscape, as colleges and their students continue to grapple with the far-reaching implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on access, persistence and equity in higher education. To help sustain progress and eliminate completion gaps, the guidebook and its accompanying tools provide a framework for faculty, staff, college leadership, and policymakers to collect, share, and act on data to improve student outcomes. 

The resources are relevant to college systems and state agencies depending on the state's setup, and anyone in higher education who wants to use data to drive their decision-making can benefit from using them. The guidebook's ideal use is for a college team, led by a senior administrator, to review and complete the tools, which should include faculty members, advisers and other staff members, students, and institutional research staff. 

The guidebook includes specific recommendations for how colleges can identify key performance indicators of student success, source data, and use the National Student Clearinghouse's Postsecondary Data Partnership (PDP) to track student outcomes. It outlines the four cornerstones of strong measurement systems: measuring what matters, sourcing the data needed, using the PDP, and having regular conversations about data. The publication draws on CCA’s efforts to implement and scale data-informed student success practices over the past decade across its alliance of states, systems, and organizations aligned working to improve college completion in the United States. 

"Creating a strong measurement system can be a daunting task," said Charles Ansell, Vice President of Research, Policy, and Advocacy at Complete College America. "Building a student success data team is like building any successful roster. You need the right mix of talent, coaching, and strategy. This report provides the blueprint, breaking down the process into manageable steps and providing the tools and guidance needed to create a winning system."

The report is available for download on the Complete College America website. For more information on Complete College America’s research and to read the entire “Using a Measurement System”, visit


About Complete College America:
Complete College America (CCA) builds movements for scaled change and transforms institutions through data-driven policies, student-centered perspectives, and equity-driven practices. Since its founding in 2009, CCA connects a national network of forward-thinking state and higher education leaders and introduces bold initiatives to help states and institutions confront inequities, close institutional performance gaps, and increase college completion rates, especially for marginalized and historically excluded students. For more information, visit


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