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ERIC Number: ED600659
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2019-Jun
Pages: 23
Abstractor: ERIC
Informing Improvement: Recommendations for Enhancing Accreditor Data-Use to Promote Student Success and Equity
Arnold, Nathan; Voight, Mamie; Morales, Jessica; Dancy. Kim; Coleman, Art
Institute for Higher Education Policy
As the higher education landscape has expanded beyond issues of access and affordability to include an emphasis on student completion and employment outcomes, accreditors can play a leadership role in advancing this important change. A shift to student success that rightfully centers in part on closing equity gaps between low-income students and students of color and their peers ensures that students from all backgrounds have a genuine opportunity to thrive in and after college. The institutions that have progressed the most have done so through concerted, systemic, and equity-minded use of data to shine a light on those areas where focus and resources are most needed. For institutions today, data-use is a prerequisite to making institutional improvement, especially in unpacking and addressing the systemic racial and economic inequities that continue to undermine justice and opportunity within our higher education system. Accreditors, who hold primary responsibility for assuring quality and continuous institutional improvement, possess enormous power in the drive to improve student success at more institutions by using data to shape their conversations with and evaluations of colleges and universities. Based on a review of accreditor materials and interviews with 10 high-level commission staff from regional, national, and programmatic accreditors, this report seeks to identify current practices, challenges, and opportunities with respect to data-use in accreditation. Three recommendations are offered for proactive steps that accreditors can take to incorporate outcomes-focused, equity-minded data into the entire review cycle to spur more evidence-driven institutional improvement: (1) Embed data-use into routine practice; (2) Emphasize equity; and (3) Increase transparency about data-use practices. In discussions with accreditors, many voiced an interest in using data, and this paper profiles promising ways that four accreditors have incorporated data into their work. Building on such examples, accreditors could embed data more thoroughly into continuous institutional improvement efforts to demonstrate their collective commitment to evidence-based decision making. A more thorough focus on data also would demonstrate to policymakers and policy experts that both accreditors and institutions are willing and able to identify and address many of the shortcomings within our higher education system.
Institute for Higher Education Policy. 1825 K Street Suite 720, Washington, DC 20006. Tel: 202-861-8223; Fax: 202-861-9307; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Lumina Foundation
Authoring Institution: Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP)
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A