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|Data and Evaluation Toolkit|
Recognizing the importance of using data to examine and improve program practice and outcomes, NCAN has produced or assembled a number of data- and evaluation-related resources for our members. Many, but not all, of these resources related to NCAN’s Common Measures, a member-developed and research-backed set of college access and success indicators. These resources are listed below with short descriptions.
Please send questions, concerns, or feedback to Bill DeBaun, director of data and evaluation, at email@example.com.
Common Measures Quick References
Two short documents listing all of the Common Measures and the abbreviated citations to the research related to them. One covers NCAN’s "Access" and "Success" Common Measures while another covers a set of Middle School Indicators. To view the full citations for each of the Common Measures, consult the Common Measures Handbook. (Last updated February 2018).
The Common Measures Handbook is a lengthy reference that examines each of the Common Measures indicators and suggests the form in which its related data are stored, data sources, technical and tracking notes, and related research. This document will evolve as new suggestions on tracking and collection are offered by NCAN members and as new research relevant to these measures enters the field. (Last updated February 2018).
The first in a two-part series from NCAN and Exponent Partners. If you’re just getting started, dive into part one, Driving Toward Program Improvement: Principles and Practices for Getting Started With Data. Here you’ll find best practices for building a data-driven mindset, refining your logic model, adopting data management practices, building your capacity, and more.
The second in a two-part series from NCAN and Exponent Partners. If you’re moving towards a more sophisticated approach, take a look at part two, Roadmap for Tracking Your Student Results: Program Data & Systems. You’ll get a review of some foundational steps, frameworks for data management with a system, analysis methods, and more.
Curious about how other programs use data? Confused about which data platform might be a good fit for your organization? This white paper seeks to help you answer both of those questions. Written as a product of the Common Measures Learning Community, this paper includes data from a survey of NCAN members and profiles and testimonials of five different data platforms being used by college access and success programs nationally. Future editions of this white paper will consider even more data platforms in the field.
Idea Incubator Series
In the summer and fall of 2016, NCAN conducted a series of "Idea Incubators" across the country. These gatherings of four to seven members focused on brainstorming around key questions in the college access and success field. Readers should consider these a hybrid between a white paper, a resource guide, and meeting minutes on an important topic.
NCAN Benchmarking Spotlights
The Benchmarking Project is an important collaboration between NCAN, our members, and the National Student Clearinghouse that examines college access and success programs’ collective success in helping students to enroll in and complete at postsecondary institutions. To date, the project has found evidence that students served by NCAN members enroll at rates exceeding those of students from low-income high schools and more closely resembling those from higher-income high schools. The Benchmarking Reports have also found that member-served students complete at rates exceeding their low-income peers and approaching the national average.
In addition to these important quantitative findings, the Benchmarking Report series also assists with identifying high-performing programs from which other NCAN members may be able to learn important lessons and strategies. Ann Coles, senior fellow at uAspire, conducted a series of case studies profiling some of these programs, which included extensive interviews with program staff, leadership, partners, and students. She also reviewed key program documents and processes.
The phrase “program evaluation” is often viewed suspiciously or defensively, but the process of program evaluation can be extremely helpful for understanding what a program is successful at, where it could improve, and where its activities can and cannot be measured. This primer, written in “FAQ” style, is for those trying to learn more about what a program evaluation is and isn’t and whether and when a program evaluation might be right for them.
Student Privacy Resources
The privacy and security of student data are both critically important. The U.S. Department of Education’s Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) is a wealth of information around practices and policies that help organizations stay compliant with the law and keep student data safe. The PTAC Toolkit is organized around five important topics: security best practices, data governance, data sharing/dissemination, legal references (FERPA and cross-agency), and disclosure avoidance. Beyond the toolkit, PTAC also operates a Help Desk that programs can contact with questions or concerns on student privacy.
StriveTogether also has a very handy guide to student privacy titled "Student Data Privacy Best Practices: Five Ways Community Organizations Can Ensure Effective and Responsible Data Use." If your organization uses student data, this is an important refresher in maintaining that data's security.
A valuable resource from Public Profit and B3 Consults, this guide helps programs tackle one of the most frequent data questions in our field: how am I tracking and reporting data? Use the Making Wise Decisions self-assessment, toolkit, and templates to identify program needs and the processes and types of platforms most likely to meet those needs.
Other Data-Related Resources