Sample Projects

Strategic data use

For two decades, ASA staff have provided expert strategic data planning and technical assistance to numerous initiatives and organizations. We work with clients to increase organizational capacities through strategic data, policy, and programming assessments and plans that equip them with evidence and identify necessary reform.

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Program & Policy evaluation

For a consortium of community colleges in North Carolina, ASA founding partner Sue Clery led an evaluation of a new state policy that uses multiple measures to determine whether students were placed directly into college-level coursework. As a result of the evaluation findings, North Carolina is currently adjusting its policy to better support students who are academically at-risk. 

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Policy reports

ASA founding partner Abby Miller led the research of two reports for the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative (NPEC) of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) on the topics of certificates and distance education. These papers identify trends in the postsecondary landscape and make recommendations for survey improvements.

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Data analysis

For over 25 years, ASA researchers have authored analytical reports for the National Education Association. ASA staff members' contributions to  publications including the annual Almanac of Higher Education use extensive analyses of national datasets, focusing on faculty salaries and other issues that affect working conditions. 

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Focus groups and interviews

As part of an evaluation of Southwest Virginia Community College’s U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant, ASA staff conducted focus groups and interviews with students, faculty, and staff at the institution and partner organizations. Findings informed future program expansion.

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Surveys

ASA staff have conducted student, staff and faculty surveys for K-12, higher education, and workforce clients including the National Association of College Admission Counseling, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, the American Council on Education, and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

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Program and Policy Evaluation

North Carolina Multiple Measures

Partnering with a consortium of North Carolina (NC) community colleges, ASA founding partner Sue Clery led a mixed methods implementation and outcomes evaluation of the state’s new multiple measures policy, a three-year study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. NC’s new policy allows students with high school GPAs of 2.6+ to enroll directly in college-level coursework.


Concerned about the academic success of students with GPAs near the 2.6 threshold, the participating colleges implemented interventions designed to foster success for potentially at-risk students with high school GPAs of 2.6 to 2.9. At the study’s outset, the research team held a Strategy Institute where practitioner-experts and the evaluation team provided assistance to the college teams as they created strategic action plans to develop and implement their chosen intervention. The research team provided a Sourcebook and Guide, which included a range of tools, templates, and best practice examples. Throughout the study, the evaluation team prepared a series of evaluation and performance metrics reports to support the colleges as they monitored their progress.


The final evaluation revealed not only a ½ grade gap closure between the targeted students and those with GPAs of 3.0+, but the improvement was most pronounced - an improvement of nearly an entire grade - for students with the lowest policy (accepted high school GPA, 2.60 to 2.79). Armed with this evidence, NC policymakers are now in the process of revising their original policy. With the new policy, all colleges in the state will require students proven to benefit the most to enroll in a designated academic support course.

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Strategic data use

National data initiaves

ASA founding partner Sue Clery, a strategic data use expert, led the data work, including defining metrics and metrics frameworks, and the development of interactive data tools and key performance indicator reports, for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Completion by Design (CBD) and Frontier Set college completion initiatives.  


The initiatives’ data are used by the participating institutions to provide evidence and inform strategic decision-making. For example, for the CBD colleges, Sue led a variety of workshops with the goal of leading participants through a detailed analysis of their data to identify areas with transformative need. 


In collaboration with the Community College Research Center (CCRC), she developed The Pathways Analysis Toolkit  which describes the process and model analyses that CBD colleges use to analyze students' pathways, and design and evaluate their strategies. The Toolkit, intended for use by institutions with established data systems and capacities who are working to improve their student outcomes, includes interactive templates, data definitions, and programming guidelines so they can conduct these model analyses with their own data.  

Policy Reports

National Postsecondary Education Cooperative

ASA founding partner Abby Miller led the research and writing of two reports for the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative (NPEC) of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) on the topics of certificates and distance education. These NPEC-commissioned research papers identified trends in the postsecondary landscape, assessed the extent to which IPEDS data accurately reflect those trends, and made recommendations to better reflect the landscape through survey improvements. 


Information gathered and analyzed through a literature review, data analysis, informational interviews, and program scans reveals a complex and changing picture of the certificate landscape. Included among the report’s findings are the emergence of transfer certificates, stacked credentials, micro-credentials and retroactive awarding of certificates, and the need to update survey definitions and instructions to better reflect these trends and ultimately, the relative student gains realized by each reported completion. 


Similar methods for the distance education paper revealed that while the distance education landscape has grown and continues to expand and change, only minimal changes are recommended to reduce confusion of terms in data reporting. The recommendations take into account not only more accurate national statistics, but also any additional reporting burden that might be imposed on institutional researchers. 


These reports, like all NPEC-commissioned research, are exploratory in nature and meant to provide background information for National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Technical Review Panels, to set the stage for further investigation, and aid in future decisions about changes to survey instruments. 


The reports and supplemental data tables are posted on the NPEC Products website.

Data analysis

Institution and faculty associations

For over 25 years, ASA founding partner Sue Clery has provided research and analytical support to the National Education Association’s higher education department, their affiliates and members. ASA staff extensively analyze higher education data, focusing on issues that affect faculty and their working conditions. ASA staff are responsible for a number of regular analyses, publications and tools , most recently: 

• Annual analysis of faculty salaries for NEA’s Almanac of Higher Education

• Presentation of recent analyses at NEA’s Annual Higher Education Conference. 

• Annual preparation of a set of Issue Briefs on topics such as community college faculty, part-time faculty, tenure, non-instructional staff, land grant and HBCU institutions.  

• Annual Special Salary Issue of  the NEA Advocate.   

• Maintenance and updates to the NEA College and University Data Analysis System (CUDAS) , using IPEDS data to provide quick access to peer trend reports on salaries, benefits, tenure, institutional finance, student enrollment and completion data.


Additionally, ASA recently worked with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) to prepare an analysis and storyline of AASCU’s member institutions, including data visualizations depicting their student enrollments and their characteristics, their outcomes, institutional financing, and how AASCU institutions compare to similar, non-member institutions across a range of metrics.

Focus groups and interviews

Coming soon

Surveys

Coming soon