The Dashboard is the first of three tools to be created as part of The MAPS Project, a Sorenson Impact Center initiative funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. MAPS stands for Model, Analyze, Prototype and Share, and the MAPS Project is focused on modeling, analyzing, prototyping, and sharing student-equity-centric ideas in higher education.
“Higher education needs data-driven metrics to understand how to best help and support its students, make decisions about future growth, and succeed in a rapidly changing education environment,” says Frederique Irwin, Managing Director, Impact Strategy at the Sorenson Impact Center and MAPS grant lead. “Institutions that thrive 10 years from now will be ones that ensure diverse student success as we expect the composition of the student body to undergo a rapid shift over the next decade, and schools need to be prepared.”
The MAPS Institutional Equity Outcomes Dashboard aims to address the need for consistent, system-wide metrics to measure equity and implementation of solutions that can be applied to the specific needs of each school and its student population. Academic institutions can use the platform to see if the efforts they are making around equity and inclusion are working and how they should best utilize their resources.
“Despite progress, historically marginalized racial and ethnic populations—Black, Hispanic and Latino, and Native American and Pacific Islander—are still underrepresented in the student body, faculty, and leadership at many higher education institutions,” says Megan Brewster, Sorenson Impact Center Senior Manager and lead author of the accompanying white paper “Missing Metrics: An Analysis of Equity Measurement Gaps in Higher Education.” “To better serve these students, higher ed leaders need to first understand the current state of equity at their institutions through data, and that’s what this Dashboard is designed to do. Our goal is to dramatically improve student outcomes and ensure that race, ethnicity, and income are not predictors of postsecondary success.”
MAPS research shows that while equity is top of mind for many higher ed leaders, many in positions of influence aren’t familiar with their own institutions’ data in terms of equitable outcomes for students. What’s more, COVID-19 has exacerbated many existing equity gaps in higher education, including impacting students’ abilities to attend and complete college, particularly for students from historically marginalized racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. After the onset of the pandemic, undergraduate enrollments decreased across the board, with community colleges having faced the worst of these changes.
“As the nation’s demographic landscape changes, colleges and universities that ensure diverse student success will be the ones to thrive going forward,” said Allison Boxer, Managing Director at the Sorenson Impact Center. “Graduation rates and other common outcomes metrics, while not always comprehensive, indicate that many institutions are not serving all student populations equitably. This Dashboard enables institutions to easily gather data on peer institutions in the same sector.”
About the MAPS Institutional Equity Outcomes Dashboard
The MAPS Institutional Equity Outcomes Dashboard highlights important additional context for schools that relates to the student population they serve and how they should be perceived in terms of success. These factors include: their percentage of Pell recipients (a proxy for student need), their level of access (from highly selective to open access), any key mission like being a land-grant institution or Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and services they provide that may help create greater equity for students, such as on-campus childcare. The tool uses Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data and U.S. Census data.
The MAPS Dashboard marks a significant improvement for educators in the data science behind the drivers of student equity outcomes in higher education. It offers educators a rich visual experience and vastly facilitates IPEDS navigation. It also gives institutions an easier way to compare colleges and universities on IPEDS, helping them better understand peer and aspirational schools. To ensure the most accurate comparative sets, this tool only allows comparisons between similarly situated schools (e.g., four-year public schools cannot be compared to two-year public schools.)
About the MAPS Project
A three-year initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the MAPS Project is a student-centric initiative to chart the rapidly evolving higher education system and that works to bring high-quality data and historically marginalized voices to higher ed decision-makers. The MAPS Project aims to Model, Analyze, Prototype and Share innovative solutions to challenges in higher education.