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.