Frequently Asked Questions

What is the mission of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness?

The Office of Institutional Effectiveness serves Sonoma State University by providing consistent and accurate information that helps decision-makers act on behalf of students and the community to foster student success and academic excellence. We encourage and support evidence-based planning and decision-making, improvements in student access, learning and achievement, effective use of resources through collaboration and innovation, and communicating institutional effectiveness to internal and external audiences.

How do I contact IE with a specific data request? How long will the request take?

If the data is not currently listed on the IE website, please fill out the Data Request Form, listed in the left navigational sidebar of this website. Please include information on what kind of data is needed, how the data will be used and when the data is needed. On average, a data request will take about two weeks to complete, unless otherwise specified by the Office of Institutional Effectiveness. Keep in mind that the amount of time needed to complete data requests may vary due to complexity and staff availability.

Why does the data I have on a report differ from data posted on the IE website?

Most data posted to the IE website is data collected after each semester's census day, which is a “snapshot” of data on a specific day in the semester. Data discrepancies can occur due to different timeframes (earlier in the semester vs. later in the semester), differences in student populations, varying data definitions, report methodology, etc. Sometimes, discrepancies in data can also be linked to IE’s ongoing efforts to improve data integrity, therefore resulting in different, but more accurate datasets.

What should I do if I think I found inaccurate data, or want to make a suggestion about the IE website?

If data appears to be inaccurate on the IE website, please do not hesitate to bring this to the attention of the office. We endeavor to provide the most accurate data to the Sonoma State University community, but errors happen from time to time. Similarly, if there is additional data that should be added to the website, please let us know. See Contact Us to find our contact information.

What is "official" data?

Official data has been submitted to the California State University Chancellor’s Office. The data has been thoroughly tested, evaluated, corrected and ultimately certified by the Chancellor.

What is "census day"?

Census day is a date set by the University on which it takes a virtual snapshot of all students' enrollment, which becomes the official data that is used for state and federal reporting. There is a census day for each term at Sonoma State. For Fall and Spring semesters, it is the end of the fourth week of each semester. For winter terms, census occurs two weeks after the beginning of classes. For summer terms, census day is usually two months after the beginning of summer classes, to account for the varied start dates for summer sessions.

What is a Tableau dashboard?

A Tableau dashboard is an interactive collection of Tableau data visualizations that allows users to review and compare a variety of data simultaneously. The dashboards are powered by Tableau software, which allows data to be available 24/7 and updated regularly via PeopleSoft/MySSU. IE is working on implementing more Tableau dashboards into our website to provide up-to-date information and clear statistical analysis.

What is IPEDS?

IPEDS is the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, which is a system of interrelated surveys conducted annually by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. IPEDS gathers information from every college, university, and technical and vocational institution that participates in federal student financial aid programs. The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, requires that institutions that participate in federal student aid programs report data on enrollments, program completions, graduation rates, faculty and staff, finances, institutional prices, and student financial aid.

When and how often is the IE website updated?

Most data regarding the academic year, such as enrollment, demographics, and graduation, are updated in the fall, once the final dataset is made official. Other site content, such as graduation statistics are updated in winter and summer. Other routine maintenance and content updates are conducted throughout the year.

Where can I find data definitions?

Data definitions can be found by navigating to the Data Glossary.

What is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974?

FERPA is federal legislation that protects the privacy of students' personally identifiable information. The act applies to all educational institutions that receive federal funding, and mandates that schools must obtain written permission in order to release a student's personally identifiable information.