Using Data to Improve College Completion Rates: Key State Actions and Implications for Policy

Using Data to Improve College Completion Rates: Key State Actions and Implications for Policy
Using Data to Improve College Completion Rates: Key State Actions and Implications for Policy



Though our nation has made great strides in increasing access to college for more young Americans, completion of college remains an area of challenge nationwide. Whereas the U.S. was once the global leader in college completion, we now rank 10th in the world in the percentage of young adults with college degrees. President Obama has set the goal of once again leading the world in college completion by 2020. Achieving this vision will require a better understanding of where and when students are struggling to complete degrees, so that leaders can target resources appropriately and measure progress.

This AYPF forum discussed the urgent need to increase college completion rates in the U.S. and highlighted how improved data collection at the postsecondary level is key to identifying and understanding areas for improvement. The forum reported on the progress that states are making in developing and utilizing postsecondary data systems and describe efforts by national organizations to support states as they build their capacity to collect and analyze this information.

The National Governors Association has recently released Complete to Compete: Common College Completion Metrics, a report that draws on the recommendations of the NGA Center’s Work Group on College Completion Metrics. The NGA report sets forth the outcome and progress metrics recommended for collection and reporting at the campus, system and state levels.


The State Higher Education Executive Officers has recently released Strong Foundations:The State of the State Postsecondary Data Systems, which describes existing state

postsecondary student-level data systems and provides examples of how they have been






Brian Noland, Chancellor, West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission

Dominique Raymond, Director, Alliance State Relations, Complete College America

Travis Reindl, Program Director, National Governors Association

Jeff Stanley, Associate Vice President, State Higher Education Executive Officers



Dr. Brian Noland serves as the chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.  Under his leadership, the Commission has engaged in a series of initiatives to implement a public agenda for higher education in the state.

Dr. Noland’s professional career has been primarily focused in higher education and higher education policy.  Prior to joining the Commission’s staff, he served as the Associate Executive Director for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, and was a faculty member in the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Noland received his B.A. and M.A in political science from West Virginia University, and holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.




Dominique Raymond leads Complete College America’s outreach, advocacy and communications with Complete College America’s Alliance of States, serving as a primary point of contact for state leadership teams. Across her career, she has developed expertise in implementing statewide education policy initiatives that increase academic achievement, particularly among underserved students.

Domy has served as a Special Assistant to the Secretary at the Pennsylvania Department of Education, State Outreach Coordinator for Achieve, Inc. and Higher Education Policy Analyst and preK-16 workgroup co-chair for the Maryland Higher Education Commission. She has also held positions as program coordinator at the University of Maryland and the University of the District of Columbia.




Travis Reindl oversees the postsecondary education work area in the National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices.  His concentration is on postsecondary access and completion. He is also the lead on the 2010-2011 NGA Chair’s Initiative, which focuses on increasing college completion and productivity.  He most recently served as state policy and campaigns director at CommunicationWorks, L.L.C., a Washington, D.C.-based public affairs firm.  From 2006 to 2008, he served as program director at the Boston-based Jobs for the Future, where he led Making Opportunity Affordable. Previously, Travis headed the state policy analysis unit at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and oversaw government relations and institutional research for the South Dakota Board of Regents.  A native of South Dakota, Travis holds a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and an M.P.P. from the University of Maryland-College Park.




Jeffrey M. Stanley joined the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in July 2008 and holds the position of Associate Vice President. Among other duties, Mr. Stanley serves as the State Adviser to Indiana and Ohio in Lumina Foundation’s Productivity Grant Initiative, and he works closely with the recently launched Complete College America. Prior to this position, Mr. Stanley served as the Associate Commissioner for Policy and Planning for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education from 2000-2008.  In addition to preparing higher education policy studies and reports, Mr. Stanley was the primary staff person in overseeing the development of the Commission’s strategic plan, Reaching Higher: Strategic Directions for Higher Education in Indiana. From 1995-2000, Mr. Stanley worked for Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).  During his time at IUPUI, he was directly involved in the reorganization of the programmatic and structural components of an entire division of student support services, and he designed the highly successful annual Top 100 IUPUI Students award program. Additionally, Mr. Stanley has worked in Indiana’s child welfare system providing services to neglected and abused youth. Mr. Stanley is a graduate of Purdue University and earned his MSW from the Indiana University School of Social Work.



Brian Noland
Chancellor, West Virginia
Higher Education Policy Commission
1018 Kanawha Blvd. E.
Suite 700
Charleston, WV 25301

Dominique Raymond
Alliance State Relations
Complete College America
1250 H Street NW
Suite 700
Washington, DC 20005

Travis Reindl
Program Director
National Governors Association
444 North Capitol St NW
Suite 267
Washington, DC 20001

Jeff Stanley
Associate Vice President
State Higher Education Executive Officers
3035 Center Green Drive
Suite 100
Boulder, CO 80301
303- 541-1600


The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.