Making Effective Use of Postsecondary Data in K-12 Education Settings

Issue Brief
Publisher: Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research
Sep 30, 2015
Luke Heinkel, Kristin Hallgren, Brian Gill, and Megan Shoji

Key Findings:

  • Postsecondary data in raw form are useful for descriptive purposes; however, raw postsecondary data alone may not provide educators with substantial new information that they did not know from high school indicators (such as student achievement).
  • Additional processing or analysis of postsecondary data is required to use these data in more sophisticated ways.
  • Dissemination of postsecondary data is important for engaging stakeholders.

State, district, and school officials in K–12 education are increasingly paying attention to the postsecondary outcomes of their former students. Services such as the National Student Clearinghouse StudentTracker for High Schools provide states, districts, and schools with the capability to examine college enrollment, persistence, and completion data on students they previously served in K–12 settings. Many officials, however, are unsure of the best ways to use these data. This issue brief (1) summarizes the uses and limitations of postsecondary data in raw form, (2) describes three sophisticated ways that K–12 officials can use these data to inform K–12 policy and practice, and (3) discusses the importance of dissemination.


Strategic Data Use in Education


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Time Frame


Senior Staff

Megan Shoji
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Brian Gill
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Kristin Hallgren
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