RAMC Statement on Winter 2014-15 Data Collection from Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

January 5, 2016, Washington, DC – Rebuilding America’s Middle Class (RAMC) commends the U.S. Department of Education for the manner in which it approached and released the winter 2014-15 data collection from IPEDS.

As our aim is to ensure federal education policy better serves the needs of our students, we welcome IPEDS’ doubling of the time period for which it normally measures degree completion.  Not only does this step provide additional transparency, it serves to more truly capture the outcomes and success of community college students.

While the four-year tracking of undergraduates at two-year colleges leads to much higher graduation rates among first-time, full-time community college students – and that is gratifying – what is just as important to policy discussions is how this IPEDS breakthrough may be able to lead to a rationalization of data collection across-the-board with a focus on more meaningful metrics.

For instance, the Obama administration’s revised College Scorecard  uses the IPEDS graduation rate of 200% of the “normal time” to completion, better than 150% to be sure, but which may still understate community college success.

Indeed, despite the heartening step of this recent release, RAMC continues to believe that the current federal data system is unsuitable for measuring the outcomes and successes of community college students.  That’s why RAMC supports efforts to improve postsecondary data systems by expanding the usefulness of IPEDS and other federal data programs for all community college students.