Institute seeks employment data standardization

A new report from The Institute for College Access & Success proposes ways to standardize the gathering of more accurate graduate employment data.
By: | Issue: March, 2019
February 21, 2019
A new report from The Institute for College Access & Success proposes ways to standardize the gathering of more accurate graduate employment data.

Colleges expend enormous effort tracking student behavior on campus—but what about post-graduation? A new report from The Institute for College Access & Success proposes ways to standardize the gathering of more accurate graduate employment data.

Some higher ed institutions already collect employment information from graduates, but varying response rates can produce biased samples, says Neha Dalal, the institute’s program and operations coordinator.

Pending legislation has bipartisan support. The College Transparency Act would overturn the Higher Education Act of 1965, and lift a ban on a federal system of postsecondary student data.

To create an accurate database of graduate employment, a federal database—along with a database for each state—must be created and standardized, Dalal says.

Two key metrics that the institute would track include graduate employment and a $28,000 annual salary threshold. The threshold was calculated around earnings among 25- to 34-year-olds who reported their highest level of education as high school, according to the report.

Some states already track graduate employment yearly, but a more accurate reading would occur quarterly, with the first report created 180 days after students graduate, Dalal says. Threshold earning data should be gathered one year after degree completion, she adds.

With $260 billion of federal money allocated annually to higher ed institutions, the lack of post-graduate employment tracking hinders schools attempting to quantify value to consumers and critics. “Students are coming to school for a variety of reasons, and there are now a lot of useful measures on completion and progression through the system,” says Dalal. “We want to make sure that we are fulfilling students’ expectations, and helping them with what comes after graduation.”