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Disaggregating Data

Thursday, April 23, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jon Cleveland & Barb Richardson
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At the 2019 MPACE Annual Conference, Jon Cleveland and Barb Richardson presented on how the Career Center at Colorado State University is advocating for more disaggregation of career outcome data to inspire action that promotes equitable career outcomes. We’ve asked them to share more about this innovative best practice with our MPACE members.

Please briefly describe how Colorado State shares your career outcomes data.

Jon and Barb: For the last five years, in addition to the reporting categories outlined by NACE, we have also been disaggregating data based on race/ethnicity, gender identity, first-generation status, and Pell Grant recipient status. Additionally, we supplement these data points with national data (for example, when our internal N was too low to adequately speak to the experiences of many transgender students), as well as qualitative data like testimonials and quotes, which provides rich supplemental material to career outcomes data. Ultimately, analyzing data in this way allows us to not only celebrate our successes, which are many, but better tell the story (and inspire action) of all our students, particularly those from marginalized backgrounds.  

What are some reasons for this practice?

Jon and Barb: At CSU, we want to be as transparent and honest in our career outcomes story as possible and disaggregating based upon identity is integral to that. Aggregate data can hide challenges that populations of our students may be facing and silence their voices; disaggregating data can bring that to light and help us identify who is succeeding at our institutions. The research is overwhelming that our marginalized students face additional challenges in the job search and graduate school application process. Telling the career outcomes story of our institutions is incomplete if we ignore that there are systems that support some students’ success while hindering others. 

What advice would you share with other institutions who are interested in implementing a similar change?

Jon and Barb: 

  1. Know your environment and your student population. For us, CSU is a PWI – averages and means don’t reflect the experiences of our marginalized students.
  2. You may have low numbers for some of your identities – don't let this stop you! You can supplement with national data or year-over-year data.
  3. Supplement with qualitative data!  Student stories tell us the why and add depth to data. This approach can bring voice to marginalized populations and their lived experiences.
  4. Do your disaggregation with an asset lens. One of the dangers of disaggregation is in playing into a dominate narrative of minoritized and marginalized populations needing help, or entering this discussion from a deficit lens. The reality is that marginalized students are successful; they’re navigating environments, policies, and procedures that were often designed without them in mind.

About the Authors:

Jon Cleveland
serves as Executive Director of Career Services at Colorado State University

Barb Richardson serves as Senior Associate Director of Assessment and Strategic Initiatives for the Career Center at Colorado State University.

700 R Street, Suite 200 | Sacramento, CA 95811 | Phone: 916-231-2140