RealityCheck LifeCycle infographic

Leveraging Your RealityCheck Report in Five Steps

Metrics like completion rates are important measures of performance. But comparing your completion rates to those of the institution across town or others around the state ignores the fact that those institutions are different from yours. So, this approach doesn’t tell your whole story to potential students, accreditors, regulators, governing boards, alumni, and other stakeholders. In this post, we describe the issue with current graduation rates and outline five easy steps for leveraging your RealityCheck Report.

Colleges and universities across the country work hard to be successful. And each institution is a unique combination of student and institutional characteristics. No two are exactly the same. Each is as unique as a fingerprint. So, when we evaluate performance, why do we treat institutions as if they are identical?

Higher education lumps institutions together for comparison on all kinds of metrics: acceptance rate, retention, and even completion rate. Organizations and people make judgments about how well colleges and universities serve their students based on these metrics, as compared to other institutions.

At the Institute for Effectiveness in Higher Education, we know there is a better way to tell your student success story: by assessing your institution against the perfect comparator—itself.

Earlier this year, we introduced IEHE’s new data analytic tool – RealityCheck. We’ve gotten some great engagement from higher education professionals about their RC reports and wanted to share with others who are digging into RealityCheck. Leaders have already identified a myriad of ways the RealityCheck Report can be used to the institution’s advantage.

To help you with your RealityCheck report, we’ve developed the RealityCheck LifeCycle and five easy steps for leveraging and using your RealityCheck Report.

RealityCheck Lifecycle diagram to show the planning process.

Step #1: Order/Pre-Order

While you can order your RealityCheck Report at any time, planning ahead will save you money. Order between May 1 and November 30 to get RealityCheck for the upcoming year at last year’s price. You may obtain prior year data at any time.

Step #2: Review

If you order by November 30, your RealityCheck Report will be ready in February of the following year. Based on your results, you might think of new stakeholders who would value the information. If your transfer students are faring very well, for example, perhaps the offices that work with this population would want to hear the good news. Admissions, Advising, and Student Housing, among others, all might play a role in these students’ success stories.

Step #3: Disseminate

You should disseminate your RealityCheck results broadly for discussion in the spring. What can the positive results tell you about what you’re doing right? Are some student groups succeeding at rates higher than predicted? What initiatives are working for these successful student groups? Could any of them be leveraged to help others? What groups are most in need of supports to help them succeed?

Step #4: Plan

Once you’ve identified the groups, you should target for greater supports, you should identify the team to plan those initiatives. Bringing the right voices to the table is important in this effort. Find the campus stakeholders with the knowledge and authority to design the institutional effort.

Step #5: Implement

It’s time to move your plan into action! You can implement and monitor focused initiatives designed to support specific student groups as students arrive in the fall.

Plan ahead and order your RealityCheck report in advance.

Does the RealityCheck LifeCycle Resonate?

If the RealityCheck LifeCycle has grabbed your interest, click to learn more or get a sneak peek at your 2020 RealityCheck results.  




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.