States continue to address data tracking needs with increased accountability measures and reporting innovations, acknowledging the use and importance of longitudinal data as it bridges the gap between K-12 and postsecondary education systems. High school feedback reports play an integral role in allowing those working on state education issues to observe the impact of policies over time and respond effectively. The purpose of these reports is to track the enrollment and/or performance of a state’s high school graduates in postsecondary education, providing state leaders with a better understanding of how the two systems align in their state. The benefits are two-fold: high school feedback reports allow high schools to gauge how well they prepared their students for postsecondary education, and equip institutions of higher education to analyze the profile and needs of their incoming classes.
Education Commission of the States released a 50-State Comparison on High School Feedback Reports. For this comparison, high school feedback reports were broadly defined as systems or reports that provide data regarding postsecondary enrollment and/or postsecondary performance of high school graduates, disaggregated at the high school and/or district level. The comparison identifies which states produce high school feedback reports, what metrics those reports include (such as high school outcomes, first-year postsecondary outcomes and remedial/developmental education enrollment) and the public availability of the reports, among other topics.
Findings from this most recent comparison show high school feedback reports have grown in prevalence over time. In 2008, 23 states had postsecondary feedback systems. Currently, 42 states have a system and 39 of those states make their high school feedback reports publicly available. Additionally, 24 states disaggregate their high school feedback data by race or ethnicity and 21 states break it down by income or free and reduced lunch measures. These metrics allow states to take a more granular approach to analyzing their college-going high school populations, ultimately creating more opportunity to serve underrepresented students.
Since these reports bridge high school and postsecondary education, the agency or department that produces them can vary by state. Traditionally, most high school feedback reporting systems are housed in either a state education agency (21 states) or in a state higher education agency (13 states). However, an increasing number of reports are created within a statewide longitudinal data system or within a preschool through workforce collaborative agency (eight states). This may indicate a larger trend. We found that some states are transitioning away from traditional reports, instead using dashboards or databases. As states modernize their reports to make use of sophisticated longitudinal data systems, it will be interesting to see if and how the reports change.