Making Labor Market Data Useful: In Practice not Theory

Most community college systems can now link student performance to subsequent earnings for each individual student. In theory, college decisions are supposed to be influenced by the results of these “big data” analyses. However, in practice, the use of these data is limited.

In this panel, the presenters discussed reasons why “big data” has not yet lived up to its promise. Based on their analysis of large-scale administrative datasets across five community college systems, they provided examples of why this promise remains unfulfilled. They focused on four key issues: (1) the time and resource costs of analyzing large-scale datasets: (2) the lack of actionable conclusions; (3) the policy barriers to implementing change; and (4) the failure to fully consider the economic consequences of policy change. The presenters considered solutions to each of these issues.

Participants

Thomas Bailey, CCRC and CAPSEE

Clive Belfield, Queens College, City University of New York, and CAPSEE

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Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment, Teachers College, Columbia University

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The Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment was established in the summer of 2011 through a grant (R305C110011) from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education.

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