Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What is the purpose of the dashboard?

The purpose of the dashboard is to provide the public a view of public, four-year institution information. It provides a high-level overview of the types of students enrolling, being retained and graduating, in addition to the types of degrees awarded. While dashboards can never provide a solution for a particular “issue,” they can be used to determine what direction a decision-maker may go to gather more information.

This dashboard represents a large amount of data from PCHEES III that have been aggregated and disaggregated according to specific definitions and calculations. The dashboard was created because viewing this data in a spreadsheet would be overwhelming and difficult to comprehend.

In 2011, the Legislature passed E2SHB 1795, related to higher education. In an effort to streamline the numerous accountability measures collected by different agencies, the Legislature requested that the public four-year institutions report on many of the Complete to Compete metrics identified by the National Governors Association. The majority of measures identified in E2SHB 1795 are similar to the metrics in the Complete to Compete technical guide.

Where does the data for this dashboard come from?

The source of data for this dashboard is from OFM's Public Centralized Higher Education Enrollment System that includes enrollment and completion data from 2007-08 forward.

How was this dashboard developed?

Data from OFM’s PCHEES was compiled by OFM and Department of Enterprise Services (DES) staff, who shared it with the public four-year institutions’ institutional researchers and the Council of Presidents (COP) for their review of definitions, calculations and processes. DES used the Xcelsius tool to create the dashboard, and examples of format were shared with OFM, COP, and legislative staff. DES website experts worked with OFM and the developers to determine how to display the dashboard on the OFM website. DES also organized a number of users to participate in usability sessions and made changes to the display based on user recommendations.

Why isn't all of higher education included in this dashboard?

The legislation only refers to the public four-year institutions. The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges has information about the public community and technical colleges enrollment and completions and the Independent Colleges of Washington has information about the private, not-for-profit four-year institutions enrollment and completions.

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Why can't I see information for the 2014-15 academic year?

There is data for 2014-15; however some browsers may not display the data due to settings that prevent the dashboard from refreshing and showing the data. Follow the Fix refresh problem in PCHEES Dashboard – Internet Explorer or Fix refresh problem in PCHEES Dashboard – Google Chrome instructions to walk you through the steps to refresh the metric data.

When I choose particular measures, the chart display is blank. Why?

That particular measure may not exist for the institution or year chosen. For example, the graduation/continuation chart for the University of Washington Transfer student with a DTA/AST is blank because this level of information about a transfer degree is not provided by UW.

Why can't I find information for a specific institution?

  1. Their data may not be submitted to OFM for inclusion in the dashboard.
  2. The metric may not apply to the institution. For example, pre-college information is displayed only at a statewide level because only two institutions provide pre-college courses (CWU and EWU). In another example, TESC is not included in the Success in College Courses metric because their course structure does not support this type of reporting.

What are pre-college courses and who offers them?

Pre-College courses, also referred to as remedial courses, are courses used by institutions to prepare students for college-level math and English courses.

The majority of pre-college courses are offered at a community or technical college and CWU and EWU are the only public four-year institutions that offer pre-college courses. Students in other institutions attend courses offered by a community or technical college. For these two reasons, any conclusions drawn about pre-college students apply only to the students at CWU and EWU and may or may not reflect pre-college students in the community and technical college system.

For information about pre-college students in the community and technical college system, please visit the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges website.

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How do I read the graduation/continuation rate charts?

These charts follow a particular cohort of students longitudinally (over time) and categorizes them by graduated, continued or not found. In this chart, we use the term continuation to characterize a student who is enrolled. In the past, the term retention was used but we felt this would be confusing because retention has a different connotation in the K-12 system.

If you click on 2007-08, this chart provides information about a group of students that began at the institution in the Summer or Fall of 2007. The bottom line shows the percentage of students that began in the Summer or Fall of 2007 and graduated or continued in Spring 2008. If a student did not graduate by the end point, in this case Spring 2008, and was not enrolled in this term, they are considered not found.

This first line does not represent a whole year, only Fall to Spring so this is NOT Year One. The second line up is the Fall to Fall rate, commonly used to determine the freshman retention rate for Direct from High School students. Below is a description of the lines in this chart:

  Direct from high school Transfer
Seventh line Six-year graduation rate  
Sixth line Five-year graduation rate  
Fifth line Four-year graduation rate Four-year graduation rate
Fourth line Junior continuation Three-year graduation rate
Third line Sophomore continuation Two-year graduation rate
Second line Freshman continuation Junior continuation
First line Fall to Spring Fall to Spring

Because the PCHEES system begins with 2007-08 data, the charts for this year are the most complete, but still do not have complete data for the sixth line and there is no seventh line because we do not have the completion data yet. The five-year graduation rate (sixth line) is only accurate to demonstrate how many students from the cohort have returned to school. Many of the students in the “Not found” category are not at the school anymore because they graduated in the 2011-12 school year and this completion data is not submitted to OFM until July 2013. This time lag is necessary to get more accurate and complete data. When the dashboard is updated next December, the data in the sixth line will show a higher graduation rate and a lower percentage in the not found category.

The charts for the recent years in the Success metrics show a much lower success rate than early years. Why?

The Success metrics measure student success in courses TWO years after an event, either after taking a pre-college course or beginning at the institution. To fully report this metric, we need three years of data. The early years have all three years and the later years have less than three years. All years of available data are displayed so users have access to recent data but comparisons should not be made between years that have complete data and years with incomplete data. Any conclusions drawn are likely to be incorrect.

Why are the totals in the Credits to Degree tables so low for some schools or type of student?

  1. Washington State University operates on a semester system so their typical program requires 120 credits to graduate. When comparing to quarter-system schools, multiply the WSU numbers by 1.5. The statewide calculation converts WSU's semester credits by calculating by 1.5.
  2. When calculating credits to degree at the institution level, only credits earned at that institution are included in the calculation. The statewide calculation includes credits earned at the institution and credits transferred from other institutions.

Why is the data displayed on the dashboard different from other sources of data?

There are a number of reasons displayed data is different from other sources, such as IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System).

  1. Definition of academic year. In some cases, counts are based on Summer through Spring and in other cases, counts are based on Fall through Summer.
  2. Timing of the data pull. More recent data tends to understate completions because it takes time to reconcile this data. Data pulled one year after a term ends will be more complete than data pulled a few months after a term ends. There is always a struggle between timing and completeness.
  3. Calculations. This dashboard has adopted a broader view when it comes to calculating rates, such as graduation rate. Where IPEDS limited their calculation to first-time/full-time freshmen, this dashboard includes all students that begin in a particular Fall term. In addition, the statewide calculation counts all completions, regardless if a student began at one public institution but finished at another. Because IPEDS cannot account for students that transfer, their graduation rates will not provide this part of the story.

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Why can’t I see the full image for Data Downloads on the PCHEES Dashboard page?

If your browser’s Compatibility Mode is turned on, this feature renders differently than desired

Safari browsers render some features incorrectly causing the following problems.

When viewing the PCHEES Dashboard users can’t see data when they click on the Student Enrollment, Student Progress, or Degrees & Graduates tabs. Use Internet Explorer, Chrome or Firefox browsers to render these features correctly.

A document (like the Metrics Calculations document) has been updated but I’m not seeing any changes. What do I need to do to see the updated document?

  1. Go to Internet Options
  2. On the General Tab in the Browsing history section - Press the Settings button
  3. On the Website Data Settings window under “Check for newer versions of stored pages” – check the “Every time I visit the webpage” option
  4. Press the OK button to close the Website Data Settings window
  5. On the Internet Options window - Press the Apply button
  6. On the Internet Options window - Press the Close button

Who do I contact about questions, suggestions, or training on how to use the dashboard?

Please contact Melissa Beard, higher education analyst for the Office of Financial Management.

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