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IPEDS Outcome Measures Explained

If you’ve been in higher education for even a little while, you’ve heard of the acronym IPEDS. You probably know generally what it is … but few know what all the letters stand for.

Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System

Yes – the ‘s’ stands for System … it isn’t a plural for IPED (lol).

Image of a laptop, blank notebook, and report covered with charts and graphs representing IPEDS outcome measures.

So Many Reports . . .

Many higher ed professionals know that IPEDS collects a lot of data. But perhaps only IPEDS keyholders (the folks that manage the data collection) know that there are up to 13 IPEDS reports submitted over the course of each year.

All this data leads to lots of valuable reports. The IPEDS Outcome Measures (IPEDS-OM) report contains a wealth of information. But, since it is a newer report, it is likely being underutilized on most campuses. For decades, many higher ed leaders complained that IPEDS graduation rates only measured a fraction of students (specifically, first-time full-time). Some even argued that the IPEDS completion rates were not a good measure of how the institution was performing because they didn’t capture many of their students (namely, transfers and those enrolled part-time).

Image of a cork board with a yellow post-it note with a drawing of a light bulb pinned to it. Maybe someone has an idea related to IPEDS outcome measures.

How Did IPEDS Outcome Measures Come About?

Well, IPEDS heard the feedback, invited public input, and sought out expert opinions to address the issue.

As a result, starting with the 2015-16 data collection cycle, IPEDS expanded its Outcome Measures so that ALL undergraduate students are counted in the survey. This includes certificates, associates, and bachelor’s programs.

All. Of. Them!

Even better – the data are disaggregated by full-time and part-time, transfer and first-time, Pell and Non-Pell students.

Is that fantastic, or what?

Of course, now that we have more data, we have more questions. What does this new data tell us? What actions should we take using the data? How do the data for these disaggregated groups compare to my peers?

Next Steps with These New Data

IEHE’s new tool, RealityCheck, can help you answer those questions, and more…

  • Use your RealityCheck Report to understand what you’re getting right, and where you have room for improvement.
  • Focus your institution’s limited resources on students who can benefit most from the support.
  • Show others the evidence that your team is making a difference in student success.
  • Better tell your institution’s student success story.

Want to Learn More?

Find out more about RealityCheck by contacting IEHE.




The Institute for Effectiveness in Higher Education (IEHE) innovates and improves higher education standards through our strategic research, publicly available resources, and partnerships with colleges and universities. We provide extensive expertise on data strategy, IPEDS, institutional research and student success to drive institutional effectiveness.