The principal focus of the Policy, Planning, and Research Division is to improve the coordination of educational policy and planning for the State of Tennessee. The division assists state leaders by directing attention to key policy issues; collecting and analyzing institutional data; conducting research studies; developing long-range plans and policies related to higher education; and initiating discussions that assist decision makers in Tennessee. Finally, the division serves as a clearinghouse for public opinion and census data related to education in Tennessee.
Administration of the Student Information System is the responsibility of the Policy, Planning, and Research Division. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) developed a Student Information System (SIS) that is used to collect student data from the state’s public universities and colleges. The SIS was developed in 2004, primarily to be used for the state’s HOPE lottery scholarship program’s reporting requirements. Section 49-4-903, Tennessee Code Annotated, requires THEC to maintain data on students who receive a lottery scholarship and track their academic progress with respect to scholarship retention rates. THEC is responsible for maintaining and analyzing data in respect to lottery scholarships and reporting regularly to the legislature regarding this information. The state university systems, the Tennessee Board of Regents system (TBR) and the University of Tennessee system (UT), report information at the end of each academic term that includes data such as the number of enrolled students, the number of credit hours registered to each student, and other biographical information such as race and gender.
The Tennessee Higher Education Commission presents the Employment and Earnings Dashboard, which is useful to higher education leaders, policymakers, and consumers. This web-based tool provides information on recent Tennessee public college and university graduates' outcomes in the state labor market. Graduate data are from the THEC Student Information System, and employment data come from Unemployment Insurance wage records maintained by the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development. Users can search for information by institution or by area of study, then further disaggregate these basic search criteria by degree level.
THECSIS is a website devoted to sharing information and visitor involvement. The site contains links to external higher education resources, relevant higher education links across Tennessee and the region, data driven reports, special assessment tools, recent reports repository, collaboration tools, bi-weekly podcast, blogs, as well as the weekly update from Dr. Richard Rhoda, the Executive Director of The Tennessee Higher Education Commission.