A colleague sent me a link to a local blog post that took data from the College Scorecard and plotted wages against estimated median SAT. He wanted to know if we could do this.
“Can we do crap analysis, inattentive to definition and datasource, and blog about it? We could, but we won’t.”
Apart from the fact that the author of the blog post in question is kind of clueless about this type of analysis in the first place, the Scorecard has admirable lack of clarity to it. Admirable, that is, if you are trying to create confusion and noise. I know I take some heat for trying to publish too much data and text, but I need people to know what they are looking at. Understanding will eventually come with such knowledge, but almost never in its absence. The Scorecard does not do that.
If a user is like myself and understands where the data are drawn from and what that means for their scope, then the scorecard is fine. But few enough people in higher education are actually well-informed about Title IV, and fewer still have a clue about the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). So confusion is not a surprise. But it is irritating as it creates local brushfires to extinguish. Lord knows what our board is going to have say about it the next two days.
The College Scorecard needs next. Much more text than is currently there. Explication about what things are and are not. Recognition that some words are commonly misused and misunderstood. Such as “alumni.”
There needs to be a guide for the casual, oh-so casual user (and abuser) of data that lays out the limits in simple English. You know, “‘executive-speak.”