A Common Postsecondary Data Dictionary for Perkins Accountability

Project Overview

Principal Investigators

Pradeep Kotamraju
Deputy Director
NRCCTE

Perkins IV required states to assess secondary and postsecondary learner outcomes on a set of core indicators, building upon and strengthening accountability and reporting requirements in prior Perkins legislation. Data are reported to Congress to help gauge the return on federal investment in CTE, hold states and local providers accountable for meeting federally negotiated levels of performance, and identify areas where program improvement efforts are warranted. Policymakers have had difficulty assessing CTE benefits using state-reported data, however. Although the 2006 Perkins Act mandated the creation of statewide accountability systems, states continue to use different approaches to define key terminology, identify CTE participant and concentrator populations, construct measures, and collect accountability data.

This study explored the feasibility of creating a common data dictionary, built around CTE data that already reside within state Perkins postsecondary information systems, in order to promote efforts to improve the consistency and quality of federal Perkins data.

The premise of the project was to examine what states have in their current Perkins data systems and build common variables from there. By identifying common data definitions and establishing an associated dictionary, this project creates an opportune moment to revisit the goals of IPEDS and Perkins accountability and align the two systems more closely. The common data dictionary developed through this study will enable states to crosswalk data contained within their postsecondary longitudinal information systems into a standard Perkins data framework.