What are the goals?

The first goal of ASSIST is to provide information to assess the effectiveness of Arizona’s general education curriculum and transfer model. Arizona’s public post-secondary institutions have adopted a general education curriculum that if completed at the community college fulfills general education requirements at the university. The transfer model identifies specific curricular pathways for the student to follow. Second, ASSIST provides the community colleges and the universities information for the federal graduation rate report. This information is particularly important for the community colleges. They need to know how many former students enroll and graduate from a public four-year university.

Who sponsors ASSIST?

The statewide student data warehouse was one of the implementing recommendations of the Transfer Articulation Task Force in 1996 and 1997. ASSIST became official when the Arizona State Legislature appropriated resources to build the data warehouse over three years starting July 1, 1998. The appropriation required that the community colleges and universities match resources. The ASSIST Steering Committee, a committee with representatives from both the two-year and four-year post-secondary sectors, was given oversight of ASSIST. Arizona State University, which has expertise in data warehousing technology, signed a memorandum of understanding with AZTransfer to be the ASSIST project leader.

How is privacy ensured?

Student records are submitted to ASSIST under a security agreement signed by each university and community college guaranteeing a student’s privacy and limiting the use of the information for assessment, aggregate reporting, and policy formation purposes. Only researchers identified by participating institutions are granted access to ASSIST, and their access is limited to former students of their institution. Also, the researchers are required to execute an affidavit of non-disclosure similar to the affidavit used by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) when granting access to restricted data files.

ASSIST data are submitted annually by participating institutions to AZTransfer. The records are matched and loaded into the data warehouse using an eight-step algorithm based on combinations of last name, first name, birth date, and student ID. Students are assigned a unique ASSIST ID. This identifier becomes the primary key in the data warehouse. Personally identifiable characteristics such as name, birth date, and student ID are removed from the database accessed by researchers to ensure student privacy and compliance with federal law.

How do I gain access to ASSIST?

Researchers desiring access to ASSIST must be an employee of a participating institution and be approved by the institutional ASSIST Steering Committee representative. The design of ASSIST makes it possible for institutions to retrieve information using standard query language or SQL statements. It is the responsibility of the researcher to purchase this software and connect to the Internet. A series of standard reports are also available to institutions over the web.