All U.S. states and the federal government information about the economy and the job market, but neither is apparently very good about sharing this information with community colleges, the group of institutions that might most benefit from this information. According to an article by Matthew Dembicki in Community College Times:
[Workforce] the data is not readily shared with community colleges that would likely use the information to gauge their programs, according to a new policy brief from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).
Federal and state agencies share information on individuals—which is required of federally funded programs—and even share it with other states, but “institutional access to these data is limited, placing a considerable and unnecessary burden on institutions,” the brief said.
This makes it very difficult for community colleges to determine the effectiveness of existing programs or design new ones. Since arguably community colleges exist precisely so that members of the community can improve their employment opportunities, this barrier to information can undermine the effectiveness of community colleges.
According to the AACC paper, most of the recent push on educational data has focused on K-12 outcomes. AACC recommends both establishing a data system to track postsecondary outcomes and providing colleges with easy access to existing workforce data.
Can a push for information about collegiate learning be next?