Legislative Update: Using Data to Streamline College Admissions

Legislative Update: Using Data to Streamline College Admissions

Easing student transitions from high school to postsecondary is a top-of-mind issue for state legislators this session as states continue to confront challenges posed by COVID-19. Last month, we covered Right to Know model legislation being considered in a number of states and how this type of legislation shows efforts to improve transparency about in-state postsecondary and workforce outcomes to inform student decisionmaking. As DQC continues to track education data legislation for 2021 legislative sessions across the country, we’re noticing a complementary trend: legislators are considering proposals to streamline the college application process for students and using data to do so.

Legislators in several states, including Connecticut, Minnesota, and New York, are considering bills that would automate some aspect of the college application process for public high school students. While each takes a different approach, in general these bills seek to create a process for automatically determining whether a student is eligible for admission at state postsecondary institutions using a set of measures. For example, Minnesota’s bill aims to leverage existing K–12 and postsecondary information systems to establish a pilot program to automatically offer conditional admission to public high school seniors if they meet certain requirements.

Efforts like these rely on data use, and can best be supported by high-quality and secure cross-agency data linkages. State leaders can design statewide P–20W data systems to support such operational uses. One of the intended purposes of California’s developing Cradle-to-Career Data system is to support student-facing tools that will facilitate monitoring readiness for college admission and create a single point of entry for submitting in-state applications.

As they work to remove barriers to college enrollment for prospective students, legislators can put their investments in state data systems to work to facilitate sharing of information that can support students on their path to success.