• NACE Advocacy Mashup: Introducing
    First-Destination Standards

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
    January 8, 2014

    Given the growing institutional and governmental demands for greater accountability and more effective outcomes assessments, NACE members have been asking the association to provide greater leadership and guidance establishing and promulgating standards and guidelines to assist career services organizations in undertaking and advancing their work in this area.

    "A key concern was to provide greater consistency in data collection and analysis and to provide some nationwide data that NACE could use to surface broad trends and issues, and help influence the public policy discussions around this topic," says Manny Contomanolis, chair of NACE's First Destination Surveys Team and associate vice president and director of the office of co-op and career services at Rochester Institute of Technology.

    "Through the auspices of the NACE Advocacy Committee and under the leadership of NACE Past President Andy Ceperly and current President Dan Black, the First Destination Surveys Team was charged with developing these standards."

    Contomanolis says the initial standards-which will be introduced during NACE's Advocacy Mashup for Career Services on January 31 in Washington, D.C.-are intended to focus on minimal levels of performance with the goal of continuing to expand and advance those standards as the higher education community implements and becomes more familiar with them.

    "The standards propose a common set of definitions and descriptions of the information that should be collected, and how to organize and analyze the data for any basic effort," he explains. "The standards do not prescribe a specific survey instrument or survey response rate."

    Instead, he says, the First Destination Surveys Team is introducing the concept of a "knowledge rate."

    "Put simply, this is the percentage of graduates for whom you have information concerning their post-graduation activities," Contomanolis notes. "Another concept we are introducing is that of an 'outcomes rate.' This is the percentage of graduates who are actually engaged in the career activities identified in the standards."

    He adds that the document also identifies areas of supplemental analysis that are not specifically included in this first phase of the standards, but are likely to be included in the future as the initial standards become more broadly adopted.

    At introduction, Contomanolis says the standards first and foremost establish a common baseline assessment effort with consistent definitions and protocols.

    "While the standards and protocols will continue to develop over time, this initial effort was essential in taking that first step toward a national position regarding the critical question of first-destination career outcomes," he points out. "Clearly, as the standards become more uniformly adopted, the opportunity for best practice sharing and national trend analysis will become significantly enhanced."

    Contomanolis says NACE's Advocacy Mashup for Career Services provides an excellent opportunity to formally introduce the guidelines and create a dialogue about them and the first-destination survey initiative.

    "[This event] will give another opportunity for members to discuss in more detail various aspects of the standards," he says. "While the First Destination Surveys Team comprised a diverse and highly talented group of members, the process benefited greatly from the contributions of more than 100 members through the formal public comment process, as well as the many additional members who shared their insights and suggestions more informally with the task force members over the past 18 months."

    He points out that not only will the Mashup offer a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the work of the advocacy committee, and the variety of important developments and trends in the areas of the first-destination career outcome assessments, but also the state of internships and the implications of immigration reform.