We believe in evidence and facts.

We do not fear the hard truths revealed through an honest and revealing assessment of the data, but instead realize that data are key to understanding our strengths, confronting our challenges and identifying solutions. Everyone – from the boardroom to the classroom – must engage in data analysis and the evaluations of results. Data professionals should be empowered to step up to join their fellow change agents, asserting their expertise to help drive continuous improvement.

If it matters, measure it

The common completion metrics focus on the most important measures of progress, completion, and equity. These simple, consistent measures provide immense value to the field and complement the rigorous research and causal evaluation that drive our work. The Complete College Alliance Team, with leadership from the Metrics and Evidence Lead, must regularly report these metrics to Complete College America and use them to produce digestible, actionable reports to advance their goals. (See Communications Scaling Standards for more.)

The Standard is met when Complete College Alliance Teams publicly share common completion, progress, and equity metrics.

Work deeply with data to drive innovation

Data collection on its own will not drive change. Change comes when people interact and internalize the data, draw their own conclusions and take action. Complete College Alliance Teams must use data to develop the problem statement that catalyzes planning and reform. (See Implementation Scaling Standards for more.)

The Standard is met when college completion and equity metrics are explicitly and consistently incorporated into the Complete College Alliance Team’s problem statement, goals, and improvement strategies.

Empower data experts to be leaders in the movement

Data professionals must be more than producers of data, but rather leaders who guide decision-makers, helping them to leverage data to prioritize and focus college completion efforts. Data professionals are the watchdogs of success for all scaling efforts. They should be involved in the development of evaluation plans from the outset, help execute the plans and have access to necessary resources to support project evaluation. They must also help other members of the Complete College Alliance Team develop their own skills so that they can better understand and interpret data independently.

The Standard is met when the membership of the Complete College Alliance Team and Campus Implementations Teams include a data professional who generates data, translating it into actionable information that leads to meaningful recommendations incorporated into action plans.

Give voice to the silent through data

No data analysis can tell the full story until it disaggregates data by various student subgroups that have been underserved by higher education. . While it may be tempting for the Complete College Alliance Team to use aggregated data to draw conclusions on the state of student success, the Metrics and Evidence and Equity Leads must insist that further analysis be conducted to account for the differential impact on various student groups. (See Equity and Implementation Scaling Standards for more.)

The Standard is met when all reports related to completion and intervention implementations explicitly call out the challenges faced by different populations and the impact of interventions on those same populations.

Support implementation at scale

The Complete College Alliance Team’s Metrics and Evidence Lead and his or her counterparts within institutions must support Campus Implementation Teams by collecting and reviewing agreed upon student outcome data and other evaluation data reflecting the overall quality of the scaling effort. Descriptive data, particularly when it is collected as part of a large-scale effort should be sufficient to demonstrate the success of the initiative and areas in need of improvement. Where possible, the Complete College Alliance Team should support rigorous causal research to understand what elements of the intervention had the greatest impact on student performance. Everyone should understand that it takes time to see long-term impacts on completion, but when institutions and states scale, short- and long-term results will be revealed more swiftly. (See Implementation Scaling Standards for more.)

The Standard is met when the Campus Implementation Teams have reported to the Complete College Alliance Team the qualitative and quantitative results of implementation efforts as soon as they are available.

Communicate findings from data to drive reform

The Complete College Alliance Team’s Data Lead should work with the Complete College Alliance Team to analyze all available data to understand the nature of the completion problem or the impact of an intervention. Data and communications professionals must work together to accurately represent the data and tell the most compelling story possible to drive reform. (See Communications Scaling Standards for more.)

The Standard is met when a broad range of stakeholders can comfortably describe the lessons learned from the data and published reports are easily digestible and accurately represent the facts.

For Complete College Alliance Team and Campus Implementation Teams that commit to these scaling standards, Complete College America commits the following resources in return:

  • Set of industry standard metrics that are clearly defined and reported by all Complete College America Alliance Members and a mechanism to report those metrics to CCA
  • Series of CCA-created reports and products designed to facilitate the use of data
  • Support in creating state-level reports designed to support completion efforts
  • Training, networks and support for data professionals on the Complete College Alliance Team to understand how the expertise of data professionals fits into goal setting, policy, and implementation processes and to facilitate partnerships with communications staff
  • Data for national and in-state events to support strategy implementation
  • A quantitative and qualitative evaluation framework that includes measurement of short-, medium- and long-term outcomes that should be used to assess implementation success
  • Clear definitions, standard and templates to help facilitate the data collection process to support the evaluation framework
  • Continued commitment to collect the Common Completion Metrics and all implementation measures broken out by relevant demographic groups and data tools that allow data to be viewed for different demographic groups
  • On-demand assistance with data collection, interpretation, and presentation as well as assistance with helping Alliance Members with resolve issues related to multiple data systems


See the full Alliance Compact and Scaling Standards document.