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Comprehensive Planning


Creating a Data Informed Culture at Community Colleges book coverEdmonds College has embraced a lead and lag indicator framework in measuring progress toward goals and strategies. Adapted from the book, Creating a Data Informed Culture at Community Colleges, we have been able to identify appropriate outcomes with milestone indicators.

Lead and Lag Model

Lead and Lag Model

Starting with the end in mind, high level indicators are identified that indicate success such as graduation rates, or enrollment targets. Then smaller milestone indicators are established that would indicate that the college is making progress toward impacting the lag metric. These smaller milestones are lead indicators. Next, we'll explore an example below.

Lag Indicator: Enrollment Targets

Lag Metric: Enrollment Targets

In this example, the identified lag indicator is Enrollment Targets. The college aims to increase enrollment to fulfill our goals of increasing Access and Success. Many smaller metrics influence enrollments and are identified as lead indicators. There can be many lead indicators, and they all funnel toward the identified lag indicator. In this model, if a lead indicator shows poor performance, we can adjust our activities to impact the lead indicator because we know that well performing lead indicators will lead to a well performing lag indicator.

Lag Indicators: Overview

The college has identified ten (10) lagging indicators, which are monitored to assess institutional effectiveness and work toward the college’s comprehensive plan. The ten lagging indicators include student learning and student achievement measures, all of which can be disaggregated to ensure a commitment to academic excellence and success for all students, with a focus on equity and closure of achievement gaps.

All lagging indicators include strategic targets that were developed after looking at multiple years of college data and relevant comparisons with peer institutions as benchmarks. These targets are stretch targets that the college aspires to achieve.

The status of each lagging indicator is annually reported in the college’s Institutional Performance Report, which is reviewed and approved by the President’s Leadership Team before presentation to the Board of Trustees.

For additional accountability purposes, five (5) of the lagging indicators have established minimal threshold levels that the college should exceed in order to fulfill the college’s mission. This is stipulated in the college’s Board of Trustees’ Monitoring and Planning Policy.