One Option for Student Outcomes

Should the National Survey of Student Engagement data be made public?


Measuring educational outcomes, developing comparable assessments, and bringing accountability to colleges and universities are currently among the hottest topics discussed by higher-education experts. One part of the conversation is to what degree the National Survey of Student Engagement results should be used. NSSE is an assessment tool that more or less measures student satisfaction at individual colleges.

Should the NSSE data be made public? Should the U.S. Department of Education collect and publish the NSSE results and present them in a way so schools could be compared, as suggested in last year's report from the Commission on the Future of Higher Education? The people who conduct the NSSE program say the results of individual schools should not be used to make comparisons and therefore the public shouldn't have open access to the data.

U.S. News believes that something is clearly wrong with the idea of keeping NSSE results out of the hands of prospective students. It appears to rest on the false premise that these students and their parents don't have the common sense to use this unique information about how satisfied college students are with their experience at their alma mater. Making NSSE data public and comparable would be a big step forward in consumer accountability for higher education. U.S. News is currently the largest publisher of individual school NSSE data. This year, we tried to collect the 2006 NSSE results from the 500 schools that participated last year, but only 176 shared part of their NSSE results with U.S. News.

The following links offer six years of NSSE data as PDFs.

  • National Universities
  • Liberal Arts Colleges
  • Universities-Master's
  • Baccalaureate Colleges
  • Other Schools