College and Career Readiness Metrics and Evaluation Framework

This master metrics list includes data metrics recommended or employed by members of the Northern Illinois University P-20 Research & Data Collaborative (RDC) across their portfolio of collaborative, college-and-career-readiness-related (CCR) projects. The RDC’s accumulated project experiences emphasize the importance of developing aligned and consistent data practices, including identifying and tracking key metrics like those listed here. In parallel to its use of this list across various project spaces, the RDC offers this list as a resource for local, state, regional, or national partners operating in the CCR space.

The listed metrics cluster into three categories—High School Outcomes and Postsecondary Transition, Postsecondary Success, and Employment Outcomes—spanning secondary education, postsecondary education, and workforce. Within categories, overarching guiding questions further group the metrics. This category-question taxonomy provides a framework to inform metrics strategy and use.

Calculating the listed metrics may require partners to enhance their data definition, collection, and integration practices. CCR data sit in a developing space where programmatic [and data] definitions often vary and novel state- and local-level collections are common. Clarifying and aligning definitions, where appropriate, and understanding various CCR data sources can facilitate integrating CCR data. Such integration requires keys for matching data across sources. The necessary keys will vary per the granularity of the metric and data of interest. Publicly available keys include school or school-district identifiers like the RCDTS number in Illinois. Use of student-level identifiers [and data] requires legal authorization, which is assumed for selected internal staff (e.g., agency leadership or researchers) but is governed by data sharing/access agreements for qualified external parties (e.g., academic researchers, staff from other agencies, the RDC and other university partners). The RDC is available to consult individuals or entities interested in enhancing their CCR data practices or otherwise accessing and using CCR data in Illinois.

The listed metrics are not all applicable to a particular project or a particular community’s initiatives, nor are they exhaustive. Some of the metrics, such as the College and Career Readiness Indicator (CCRI) and College and Career Pathway Endorsement (CCPE), are specific to the Illinois context. Generally, metrics will vary in their purpose and scope as well as the data required to create them. Likewise, partners and projects will differ in context and interest and may focus on different facets of CCR. Therefore, users of this list should treat it as a starting point and reference to be tailored to their context-specific metrics work.

As these metrics are deployed, all data should be disaggregated to promote greater understanding of differences and possible inequities across student subgroups. Where possible, data should be disaggregated by demography (race/ethnicity, low-/lower-income, special needs, English learners) and, where relevant, by pathway cohort (e.g., IT pathway students, health science pathway students, etc.). Data from targeted metrics (e.g., transitional instruction or early college credit outcomes) should be further disaggregated by appropriate categories. Additionally, consideration should be given to analyzing and reporting key school characteristics in connection with the metrics (e.g., per-student expenditure, accountability status).

In addition to the metrics list, this document includes a set of reference qualitative research questions the RDC seeks to explore in relation to implementation of CCR and pathways programs. It is intended as an initial framework to feed a cycle of continuous improvement by exploring why a program may or may not be facilitating the intended college and career readiness outcomes. It includes questions that address:

  • Program inputs and activities including measures to address equity;
  • Stakeholder perceptions; and
  • Facilitators and barriers to equitable implementation.

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