Using Data for Continuous Improvement

While building an extensive database with student and labor market data elements can support evaluation and program monitoring, you can select a smaller subset of measures to check on interim progress and loss points, and, if necessary, make course corrections. Some states and colleges have adopted a process from private sector organizations, “continuous quality improvement,” to support an ongoing cycle of planning, checking, and refining their activities.

Data used in this way is “formative.” That is, it provides your program with feedback on how to strengthen or focus your activities, or refine them to better serve students. Don’t be limited to quantitative measures of student accomplishment. Qualitative data techniques, such as interviewing students, faculty, staff, and state-level decision-makers, or focus groups, can shed valuable light on the process of implementation and how it is perceived by various stakeholders.