No Single Metric Tells the Story

In her recent letter to the U.S. Department of Education, American Council on Education (ACE) President Molly Corbett Broad spoke on behalf of 26 higher education associations who are concerned about the implementation of the proposed Postsecondary Institutional Rating System (PIRS). While the group support’s the overall goals of the PIRS, they question the feasibility of the approach and the potentially conflicting goals of providing consumer information and accountability.

The letter from ACE struck a chord with us at Sightlines. We understand the possible obstacles with data collection, verification, comparison, and utilization. Our mission is to help higher education institutions overcome these issues when it comes to facilities management. We have held for years that no single metric can effectively represent the overall strength or weakness of a complex organization like a college or university. Rather, a series of metrics, or families of metrics, should be used to tie together inputs (costs), mission, and outcome.

For example, if Sightlines were to examine our database to rank institutions in a certain category of performance, we would look at multiple factors and weight them accordingly to create an even playing field and apples-to-apples comparisons. For example, if we looked at operating budget, it would not necessarily be the institutions with the most money that would rank highest. We would look at many variables, including how funds are used to maintain their campus, how the campus looks, and the campus renovation age.

Sightlines sees the value in the recommendations the ACE letter makes regarding PIRS because we have proudly designed our Facilities Intelligence Solutions to:

  • Rely on separate metrics for inputs and outputs to assess value for dollars invested;
  • Collect reliable data that is reviewed and validated with the institutional team before release;
  • Establish credible peer groups for benchmarking and comparison; and
  • Tie our analysis to institutional purpose and mission.

At Sightlines we work with our members to drive to better facilities outcomes that compliment universities’ long-term objectives.


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