Research and data
CCS Office of Institutional Research
Student Transitions Information Project
The K-12-to-College Data Gap
School districts have a tremendous need for high-quality information about what happens to their students after leaving high school. How many of their students go to college? Do they go to community college, baccalaureate, or graduate school? What kinds of challenges do they encounter in higher education? What kinds of degrees do they seek?
K-12 educators also seek information on how well prepared their students are for the higher education experience and how well programs are working. School districts lack the tools to assess whether the special academic programs like GEAR UP, MESA, or Project Lead the Way are improving college-readiness. Districts cannot measure whether algebra-based math better prepares students for college than integrated math or whether Advanced Placement courses better prepare students than Running Start.
To effectively answer such questions, districts need access to information that combines high school and college student-level data. But currently, K-12 data systems are isolated from post-secondary data systems. The Student Transitions Information Project (STIP), conducted by the Community Colleges of Spokane, bridges this data gap by combining K-12 records with data from National Student Clearing House and the community colleges to create a longitudinal student data system for school districts and colleges in eastern and central Washington.
The K-12-to-College Information Gap
But STIP is not just about data, it’s about the power of information obtained through collaboration. To meet this goal, STIP hosts two data summits each year to share information with its partner institutions and seek their guidance about future research and reporting needs. More importantly, these summits bring together educators, educational researchers, counselors and grantors in the same room at the same time to discuss critical issues facing education today.
STIP will provide a better understanding of how high school academic and demographic factors relate to college success. STIP can assess the college performance and retention of meaningful cohorts of students, such as Latino boys, students with a ‘2’ on the WASL/HISP, high-demand CTE students, Pell Grant eligible students. The value of specialized high school programs, such as college-readiness or STEM, can similarly be explored through STIP. Additionally, STIP allows for analysis of student cohorts both within and between school districts, if desired; Differences in success between cohorts can identify promising practices which can then be shared with other partners.
Initiated in 2010, STIP is already informing educational conversations across Eastern Washington. STIP has signed data sharing agreements with 40 Eastern and Central Washington School districts. We have also established partnerships with the Rural Alliance for College Success (funded by the College Access Challenge Grant) and Educational Service Districts 101 and 105.
STIP’s potential impact on Washington education is very large due to the wide range of schools served. Recognizing this potential, STIP was awarded a three-year grant from College Spark Washington to strengthen data-gathering capacities and to host its six semiannual summits. STIP was also recently awarded a one-year from Washington STEM to begin collecting baseline data on Washington high school students as they transition into STEM careers.
The real power of this project comes from data-informed, multi-institutional and multi-organizational, partnership and dialog. Though such collaboration we can learn more about ourselves, our students, our programs, our challenges, and our successes. STIP's role in this is two-fold: 1) to provide a vehicle through which educators to ask questions about their students and obtain information in return that has not been available to them, and 2) to organize venues for the sharing of information across educational and organizational boundaries.
In the next few years, we hope to partner with additional school districts and community colleges in eastern and central Washington. In addition, as the new ERDC P-20 data system becomes available to educational researchers, we plan to capitalize on this rich data source to engage in more sophisticated analyses of the more complicated issues facing students transitions from K-12 to college and beyond.
Learn more about the philosophy behind the project by viewing our 15-minute introductory video What is STIP and why are we asking for your help?