Panel Paper: Data Watch: Using National Student Clearinghouse Data to Track Postsecondary Outcomes

Saturday, November 10, 2012 : 2:25 PM
Carroll (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Susan Dynarski1, Steven W. Hemelt1 and Joshua Hyman2, (1)University of Michigan, (2)University of Connecticut

The federal government has given states incentives to track the postsecondary outcomes of their high school graduates. For example, states receiving State Fiscal Stabilization Funds (SFSF) are required to report statistics on college enrollment rates and persistence rates. While every state now has a longitudinal student data system for K-12, relatively few had linked these data to downstream, postsecondary outcomes such as college choice, college entry and degree completion. Many states have turned to the NSC for data on the postsecondary outcomes of their K-12 students.

While NSC has been around for quite some time, it is relatively new to academic researchers and policy-makers. This paper explores the strengths and weaknesses of the NSC data for a variety of research and policy purposes. We exploit a unique dataset that includes measures of postsecondary attainment from two sources: the NSC and transcripts obtained from Michigan?s public colleges. We use these data to examine how measurement error in the NSC data affects estimates of the level, trends, and socioeconomic gaps in postsecondary attainment.  We also calculate sector-, group- and state-specific NSC coverage rates by comparing enrollment at the universe of colleges (contained in IPEDS) to enrollment at the subset of colleges that report to NSC.