TRP #2 - Issues and Concerns of Community Colleges
TRP #3 - IPEDS Jeopardy
TRP #5 - Planning for IPEDS: 2004 and Beyond (2 meetings)
A summary of suggested changes to the data collection instruments made by the IPEDS Technical Review Panel was posted on the IPEDS website on April 5, 2004, along with an invitation to comment on the suggested changes. Below is a synopsis of the responses received, arranged by IPEDS survey component, and the actions that NCES/IPEDS anticipates for the future.
A respondent requested that NCES clearly identify the survey name and year on the first page of each data collection instrument. NCES will implement this suggestion as soon as possible.
Accreditation: NCES requested comments on combining the accreditation questions and allowing institutions to report other accrediting associations not recognized by the Secretary of Education. Most comments received indicated a consensus that NCES should not allow institutions to indicate agencies other than those recognized by the Secretary. One commenter suggested allowing institutions to include a URL for their website. This would refer users to additional accreditations, other than those recognized by the Department of Education (ED). An alternative recommendation was to provide a checklist from a source, such as CHEA, for "legitimate" accrediting agencies (other than those recognized by the Secretary). NCES will not change the way accreditation information is collected.
Admissions Requirements: NCES requested comments on whether or not the information on admissions requirements should be eliminated or changed.No comments were received on this item.NCES will not change the current collection but will consider this again at a later time.
Applications/admissions/students enrolled/SAT and ACT scores: Comments were requested on the suggestion to allow institutions to report total applications etc. if gender is not known and to eliminate the 60% restriction for reporting SAT and ACT scores. NCES received several comments on these items. In response to the suggestion of allowing institutions to report totals only, if the gender breakout was not available (particularly in the case of applicants), one respondent suggested allowing institutions to use a gender unknown (unreported) category in addition to men and women. Beginning with the Fall 2005 data collection, NCES will provide a column for reporting total applicants etc., for those institutions that do not have data by gender.
For the SAT and ACT suggestion, many expressed concern about requiring the reporting of test scores when there is a possibility that a small number of students would be submitting scores. Added burden and the effect of small numbers of students taking a particular test were the main areas of concern. It was suggested that scores not be requested if they represent less than 10% of the entering class. Other commenters had no problem doing this because the Common Data Set currently has no restriction on the number or percent of students required for reporting these scores. Beginning in Fall 2004, NCES will collect test scores and the percentage of students taking the test, with no restriction that 60% or more of the incoming students take a particular test. NCES will stress that caution be used if small numbers of students take a particular test.
Student Services: The Technical Review Panel suggested eliminating most of the items listed under student services and special opportunities. Reservations were expressed concerning dropping most of the special opportunities and student services. Rather, it was suggested that the data should be retained and made accessible on IPEDS COOL. Information about on-campus childcare is a major access issue and would be important to prospective students. Beginning with the Fall 2005 data collection, NCES will revise the lists of student services and special opportunities and will make the responses to these questions available on IPEDS COOL.
Early estimates of fall enrollment: The TRP suggested that NCES consider collecting early estimates of fall enrollment in the fall to provide indicators that, at present, are not available until spring (when the Enrollment component is collected). This suggestion met with some support as well as resistance. One respondent argued that preliminary estimates are available on campus and therefore would add no real burden. Others were apprehensive about making available two sets of enrollment data that may cause confusion or be used to "find fault" with institutions, but suggested collecting enrollment data earlier, either requiring that they be reported in the winter or in late fall. One respondent suggested that the preliminary estimates be updated to reflect the official fall enrollment statistics when reported later. NCES will request approval from OMB to add a section for the collection of early estimates data on the Fall 2005 Institutional Characteristics component. These data will NOT be included on IPEDS COOL, but will be used to generate estimates by state, region, level and control of institution, level of enrollment, and gender of student.
Human Resource Surveys:
Merging Surveys: The panel suggested combining the three winter human resource surveys into one data collection instrument. The distinction between EAP, Salaries, and Fall staff was considered important to several respondents. They expressed concern that the institutions may be confused about what they are expected to do, and whether or not an institution has fully responded would be more complicated to communicate. It was also suggested through the comments that greater effort should be taken to be sure the surveys are consistent. NCES will not combine the three (3) HR surveys at this time, but will revisit this issue at the next meeting of the IPEDS Technical Review Panel (TRP).
Collecting "medical school" data separately: The definition of the term "medical schools" currently includes only those institutions that grant the M.D. degree. The panel suggested that the definition be expanded to include other entities, such as dental and veterinary schools. Most of those that commented on this suggestion agreed that the faculty and staff in other clinical first-professional schools should be reported in with the medical school staff. NCES plans to address this issue at the next TRP meeting.
Clarification of instructions: The panel suggested that the instructions be reviewed to ensure consistency among all parts of these surveys. Other issues of consistency involved reporting of graduate (research/teaching) assistants, postdoctoral students and faculty in general since each of the surveys treats these differently. Respondents agreed that the instructions should be reviewed and that clarification be added about reporting students that are also on the payroll of the institution. Explicit instructions should be added on how to classify people as employees that are students, considering that students attending class may also be regular employees. NCES will review all instructions for the three (3) HR surveys in an effort to ensure consistency and will strive to clarify any ambiguous instructions.
Add tenure status information back to Salaries: The TRP suggested that NCES expand the Salaries component to include tenure status by rank, as it did prior to 2001. No comments were received from the field on this suggestion. NCES will not implement this suggestion at this time, but will revisit this suggestion at the next TRP meeting.
Additional breakout of "transfers-in": The TRP members that represented 4-year institutions expressed a need for additional data on the number of degree or certificate-seeking students who transfer into the institution at the undergraduate level (both full time and part time) by race/ethnicity and gender. Several respondents commented that by collecting "transfers-in" as part of the overall fall data, we could eliminate collecting "all entering students" in Part D of the Enrollment survey. Although the suggestion was intended for 4-year institutions only, several respondents suggested that community colleges would also benefit from having these data. NCES plans to implement this suggestion with the collection of fall enrollment data in 2005 for all degree-granting institutions, pending OMB approval.
Restricting the collection of specific data: The panel suggested collecting age and residence data from degree-granting institutions only and restricting the collection of entering class information to institutions that report on a fall cohort. Most respondents agreed that any reduction in burden is great. After careful review of the data that were submitted by non-degree-granting schools during the 2003-04 collection of enrollment data, NCES will not limit the collection of age and residence data, but will restrict the collection of entering class information to institutions that report on a fall cohort. This change will be effective with the collection of Fall 2004 Enrollment data in Spring 2005.
Retention: Although retention was not a subject of the TRP suggestions document, several comments were received on this topic.
Several respondents suggested that retention data should not be collected from vocational schools with less than 1-year programs only. Another suggestion was to collect raw data concerning the number of students returning in the fall and allowing the collection system calculate the retention rate, thus eliminating problems that may occur if the number of students originally enrolled in one of the categories is zero. Another respondent expressed concern about the effects of early transfer students, noting that NCES does not allow for this in the retention calculation. Until NCES has more information on this topic and can look at reporting over time, the survey question will remain as it currently is asked. Additional instructions and clarifications will be provided. Beginning with the Fall 2004 Enrollment survey (collected Winter 2004-05 and Spring 2005), institutions that have only less than one-year programs will not be required to report retention data.
Timing: Another issue raised during the comment period concerned the collection of Fall Enrollment data in the Spring collection period. Many felt that the data should be collected in the fall this would eliminate the need for early estimates). Others felt that a later fall submission would be beneficial (that would entail a different submission schedule). NCES has learned that many states are not able to submit data until final fall numbers are in and have been approved by either a Board of Regents or other state-level agency; thus collecting these data earlier may not be possible. Because of the inability for certain states to provide data earlier in the year, Enrollment will remain in the Winter and Spring collections.
Graduation rates from less than 2-year institutions: The panel suggested that IPEDS no longer collect graduation rates by race/ethnicity and gender from less than 2-year institutions and that the proposed data collection matrix not include transfers out since transfer is not normally part of the mission of these institutions. Only one respondent objected to the proposed changes for less than 2-year schools, arguing that graduation rates by race/ethnicity and gender are equally important issues for all schools. The rationale to not collect transfer-out data from less than 2-year institutions because it is not part of their mission was refuted because it is not a part of a 4-year institution's mission either. The data collection from less than 2-year institutions will change beginning in Spring 2005; NCES will no longer require these institutions to provide data by race/ethnicity and gender. NCES will provide for the reporting of transfers out.
Reporting data for students "still enrolled": TRP members wanted a line added to the survey (for all institutions) that would collect the number of students (in the cohort) that were still enrolled as of the status date. This additional information would provide some measure of "academic progression" and was previously collected on the GRS paper form. Some concern was also expressed about collecting the number of students in the cohort that were still enrolled as of the status date. Defining "still enrolled" would be problematic because of the status date (which is prior to the start of the fall term). It was also felt that this would create additional burden. NCES will not require the reporting of students "still enrolled."
General clarifications/suggestions: The panel suggested that NCES clarify a few instructions and definitions for the Finance components, primarily the one used by private, for-profit institutions. They suggested that Parts A and B (Balance Sheet Information and Statement of Changes in Equity) should no longer be required of private for-profit institutions. Finally, there was a suggestion to make the Finance survey available to respondents in both the winter collection AND in the spring collection (same as Enrollment). Respondents concurred with the suggestion to make the finance survey available in the winter collection and, in general, all other proposed changes were supported. NCES will review all instructions and make updates for the Spring 2005 collection. Parts A and B will not be eliminated from the collection from private for-profit institutions. Finally, NCES will provide for the collection of Finance data in the Winter collection as soon as it is feasible, but no later than Winter 2005-06.