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Higher Education Analysis and Data Support

Higher Education Data Analysis | Higher Education Policy Analysis

Higher Education Data Analysis

Our History & Expertise

NCHEMS has served as a champion of the use of data and analytics in strategic decision-making for over fifty years. During the first decade, the focus of our work was on creating systems and procedures for collecting data. We led a major effort in this area with the creation of the Higher Education General Information Survey (HEGIS), the predecessor of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

In subsequent decades, we began to use analytics and models to convert data into information for users at different levels and in different decision contexts. Today we are leaders in creating data simulations and models that assist decision-makers in designing and implementing policies that address the postsecondary needs of their states.

Our Work Today

NCHEMS brings advanced knowledge and creativity to the application of data to inform every project. We value the foundation of evidence that quantitative data provides in illuminating the core challenges to be addressed in any project, and we design analyses to provide insights and advance the collective understanding of conditions relevant for generating thoughtful and compelling solutions.

When we begin a new project, we assess data requirements. Our team starts with the questions that need answering and then work backward to identify data sources that can help answer them. Routinely, this involves data from states or institutions, and we collaborate with their teams to share data easily and interpret it fairly. As an external partner, we bring credibility and sensitivity to context that legitimizes analytical results and clears the way to developing and implementing needed changes.

However, data alone are rarely sufficient to fully capture the nature of a project’s boundaries, and NCHEMS’ ability to combine our use of data with stakeholder input is unique. NCHEMS creates accessible and understandable evidence-based pictures that allow our stakeholders to view data in fresh ways that lead to new insights.

Over the years, our models and dashboards have been adapted for many purposes, and their improvements and expansions have led to increased capabilities based on the needs of stakeholders and their feedback:

Over the years, our models and dashboards have been adapted for many purposes, and their improvements and expansions have led to increased capabilities based on the needs of stakeholders and their feedback

COVID Impact Model

In partnership with SHEEO, NCHEMS developed a COVID Impact Model in 2020 to model potential impacts of the COVID crisis on enrollments, finances, costs, and completions. The model was aimed at state agency and system office staff whose planning and decision-making were challenged by a pandemic for which there was no useful precedent to make confident judgments.

Student Flow Model

In 2011, NCHEMS created a model of student flow that allowed states to examine how investments in resources can have the greatest impact on statewide educational attainment. This model was based on how students move from high school (or participate as adults) through postsecondary education and into the workforce. That original model has since been updated and adapted countless times for use in strategic planning, communications with the public, and other purposes. In select cases, it has been key to exploring the potential impact of reducing racial/ethnic attainment gaps.

Competency-Based Education (CBE) Model

NCHEMS developed a cost tool related to developing competency-based education (CBE) programs for institutions. This cost model is designed to help institutional leaders unpack the activities, costs, and revenue related to starting and maintaining CBE programs.

Finance Models

States have periodically sought assistance from NCHEMS in designing new financing policies related to institutional appropriations, performance-based funding, or state financial aid programs, or in evaluating and making recommendations to revise such policies in ways that better meet state policy goals.

Analytical efforts often include simulations that allow our partners to examine the likely effects of changing key parameters as a way to fine-tune policies. But our approach is not simply based on a facility with data and data processing tools; we pair that capability with our ability to comprehend important features of the specific context our partners inhabit and with our knowledge of comparative cases that can provide valuable lessons.

Trusted Data and Analytics Partner

In addition to analysis and data support for projects in collaboration with states and systems, NCHEMS serves as the trusted data and analytics partner for many important initiatives in higher education:

  • NCHEMS was the data engine behind Measuring Up, the national report card on higher education performance produced by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, and the Campaign for College Opportunity in California.
  • The NCHEMS team provides the data resources for Lumina Foundation’s Stronger Nation program, tracking the nation’s progress toward its goal of 60% credential attainment and closing equity gaps.
  • Additionally, in recent years, NCHEMS has provided data and analysis services behind the scenes to many initiatives in postsecondary attainment, including the Aspen Prize, the Data Quality CampaignStrong Start to Finish, and the Gates Foundation Postsecondary Value Commission, and contributes to thought leadership at the national level on topics of postsecondary data infrastructure and effective data usage.

Synthesize Information

Too often, anecdotes drive decision-making. At NCHEMS, we blend large sets of validated data with carefully collected stakeholder input to synthesize information that forms context and leads to workable recommendations and solutions. We use data to ask questions that provide guidance toward workable solutions.

Moreover, we learn from our experiences to continually enhance and adapt our tools. And we cocreate analyses that respond to the specific inquiries of our stakeholders, based on our expertise with data and analyses and our many years of experience.

Higher Education Analysis: Looking Ahead

Just as other industries across the economy are adapting to a world in which actionable information is a major determinant of organizational success and adaptability, the need for good information has never been greater in the postsecondary education industry. This need is pervasive, but of utmost importance at the strategic level. NCHEMS has a long track record of helping states, systems, and institutions make high-quality strategic decisions informed by thoughtfully curated data analyses, and we are well-positioned to continue deploying our tools and expertise to serve the field in a similar way in the years to come.

Visit our Projects page to learn more about our extensive work and impact in analysis and data support.

Contact us today to schedule a conversation.

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