There is steadily growing consensus around a critical issue in our nation’s higher education system: the need to modernize our postsecondary data infrastructure. Recognizing that building the Student-Level Data Network (SLDN) outlined in pending federal legislation will require the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to make key decisions around design, construction, and implementation, the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) partnered with RTI International (RTI), operating in an independent capacity, to gather insights to inform the network’s implementation.
Implementing a Student-Level Data Network: Advice from Experts, shares the insights from that conversation with 15 experts from institutions, state systems, think tanks, and higher education associations. This brief outlines the data elements and definitional options needed to meet pending legislative requirements, maximize the quality and utility of the data, and minimize the burden on institutions. The data elements fit in five categories: enrollment and completion; financial aid; demographics; post-completion outcomes; and institutional characteristics. The brief also highlights areas that need further investigation and identifies the most pressing near-term topics in order to provide NCES and the legislatively-mandated Advisory Committee a foundation from which to start.