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PAR To Become Independent 501.c.3

The Western Interstate Commission of Higher Education (WICHE) and its Predictive Analytics Reporting Framework (PAR, http://parframework.org) program have announced plans for PAR to become a separate 501.c.3 nonprofit organization by the end of this year.

PAR began in 2011 as a research program with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funding, administered by WCET, that brought together an initial group of six higher education institutions to contribute to the development of a single federated dataset to be used for predictive analytics and ultimately be useful in solving student success challenges. Since its inception, the program has grown to include more than 20 member institutions. The dataset is built (and is still growing) with over 1.8 million normalized, de-identified student records and provides a unique multi-institutional resource for researchers to examine real-world questions about student success.

"We believe the time is right to establish a not-for-profit practice improvement center that supports using learning analytics in the service of student success," says Beth Davis, co-founder and managing director for the PAR Framework.

The PAR dataset was envisioned specifically to support research on student success, but evidence has shown that it has the potential to impact many areas of higher education institutional strategy and decision making. Ellen Wagner, PAR's chief research and strategy officer notes, "One of the new dimensions you may see in the future comes from PAR's ability to respond to some of the bigger national policy questions that come up — conversations around topics like performance-based funding. PAR is already starting to provide some interesting insights in the area of decision support, in states where funding is being tied directly to outcomes. And PAR is giving institutions a chance to do comparative studies to examine their place among peers."

PAR will continue as a collaborative venture of member institutions, and keep its practice of openly licensing resources for use by other higher education institutions. Past examples of its policy of openness include the PAR Framework Data Model, released in February 2013 and the Student Success Matrix (SSMx), released in July 2013. (The SSMx and the PAR common data definitions are available at https://community.datacookbook.com/public/institutions/par.)

About the Author

Mary Grush is Editor and Conference Program Director, Campus Technology.

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