This has been an election year and one could not help but hear the debate over taxes. As I listen, it occurs to me that there are some interesting parallels between taxes and the Higher Education System (HES) CSD Education Survey.
This may seem like an odd comparison but think about the following:
- Tax time comes around the same time every year, April. The HES CSD Education Survey opens every September (although slightly delayed this year because of enhancements including pre-population of certain data).
- The government “collects” money. ASHA and CAPCSD “collect” data on CSD undergraduate through PhD education.
- The government uses the money for defense, public works, schools, Medicaid, etc. ASHA and CAPCSD use the data to showcase academic programs in EDFIND, an online search engine, as well as publish national aggregate and state aggregate reports on undergraduate through PhD education in CSD. The data, in turn, is used to inform the personnel pipeline, assess potential academic capacity building, gauge student diversity plus much more!
- Taxes are a source of debate. Differences of opinion abound. The challenge is how much tax to collect and how to use it. Well, so too, ASHA, CAPCSD, faculty and other stakeholders grapple with which questions to ask and strive to ask the lowest number of questions that will provide the greatest value and benefit for the discipline.
Emotions about taxes and the CSD Education Survey are somewhat analogous:
- First, there is an initial sense of hesitation about the magnitude of the task. Academic programs must gather their data on applications, admissions, enrollment, graduation, first employment and more for all CSD degree programs offered at the institution. Likewise, tax payers must gather up a year’s worth of receipts and forms before sitting down in front of Turbo Tax or sending it all off to the CPA.
- Once the initial feeling has passed, acceptance prevails. We recognize taxes are necessary for the common good. So too, faculty recognize the need to inform the pipeline of the professions and advocate on its behalf. Getting the academic program profile in EDFIND is a plus too.
- Once tax forms are completed and documents and checks signed, a sense of relief and triumph takes over. For the CSD Education Survey, the final review of the data by the program director or chair and the subsequent click of the submission button also provide a feeling of accomplishment. Edfind will showcase the program’s academic profile and related information and the academic program’s data will be part of the National Aggregate and State aggregate reports, thus contributing to greater efforts in support of the professions.
Collection mechanisms are complex and require systems that mitigate burden. Imagine trying to collect money from millions and millions of U.S citizens and residents and organizations? While ASHA’s and CAPCSD’s data collection endeavors are not of the same magnitude, they are, nonetheless, challenging and require the collaboration of many stakeholders. The CSD Education Survey goes out to 300 institutions with multiple undergraduate through PhD programs in audiology, speech language pathology and speech language and hearing sciences. This translates into 700 plus degree programs for which data is compiled! As a result, ASHA and CAPCSD are forever striving to streamline the process. Academic programs now use a convenient and easy-to-use platform to report data To that end, ASHA and CAPCSD employ some similar tools used by the IRS:
- The IRS has a Website with instructions and forms; ASHA has a website with instructions and forms too.
- Tax payers use nifty electronic platforms that allow for online submission and payment. The HES is housed on a platform that allows for online submission of data.
- The IRS has an email and phone numbers for folks with questions. ASHA has an HES Manager who answers questions too; simply email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- In both cases, finishing early has its rewards. Early refunds for the taxpayer or the satisfaction of completing the task as part of one’s civic duty. For academic programs, completing and submitting their HES CSD Education Survey results in immediate update of their CSD program’s profile in EDFIND. The satisfaction of knowing the data is part of the larger aggregate national and state reports should not be overlooked.
Let’s face it, taxes are necessary. We all benefit from roads, schools, healthcare etc… The CSD Education Survey is also necessary and valuable. Without it, there would be no coordinated mechanism for systematically collecting CSD education data and there would be no data reports to inform the personnel pipeline. For the past two years the CSD Education Survey completion and submission rate has been over 80%. This leads to robust data for use by all. Additional benefits of having the national aggregate and state data reports include their use in strategic planning, grant proposals, federal and state advocacy, first employment trends, and data based decisions for the professions.
The CSD Education Survey is currently open and will close December 17th.
Silvia Quevedo, Associate Director, Academic Affairs and Research Education at ASHA, can be reached at email@example.com.