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Diagnostic Analysis

The approximately five-month process begins with a holistic analysis of student and institutional data highlighted by a series of fact-finding engagements and the gathering of survey data with follow-up qualitative interviews of key leadership and staff.

Diagnostic and Playbook

Clients work with NISS Diagnostic coaches to collect, analyze, review, and produce recommendations on which campuses can act. The collaborative process ensures each step reflects the client’s desire to improve student outcomes and responds to campus leadership needs.



In the first month of diagnostic work, the NISS team meets with designated project leads to complete the onboarding process. The projects leads provide valuable input in establishing the meeting cadence and mode of communication and product delivery. The NISS team learns more about the crucial stakeholders and collaborates with the institution to determine the key people who should be invited to participate in the surveys and interviews that will contextualize the student and institutional data that informs the Playbook recommendations.


Data Collection & Analysis

The NISS team gathers and shares data it collects from IPEDS, National Student Clearinghouse, and Steppingblocks. Identified stakeholders complete the Campus Stakeholder Survey and targeted members participate in the Institutional Data and Operations Questionnaire. The data collection process is not wholly automated. The NISS team conducts many person-to-person and group interview sessions that gather information about programs, goals, and campus culture. This information provides the proper contextualization of the data it pulls from internal, state, and federal sources. When indicated by the data, the NISS team may request supplemental information. Due to the nature of this process, clients should expect data collection to take two to four weeks.


Client Feedback

With preliminary recommendations in hand, the NISS team meets with the client project team to discuss analysis results and projected solutions. These sessions empower project leads to support the NISS-vetted Diagnostic Report and work to identify blind spots in initial analysis. During this period, the NISS team socializes the findings with key stakeholders and institutional leadership. The Campus Stakeholder Interviews provide further nuance to the analysis so it is properly contextualized as the NISS team finalizes recommendations. This process takes one to two weeks.



Playbook construction takes roughly four weeks after client feedback is complete. During this time NISS coaches ensure solutions are customized to meet specific client needs. Recommendations reflect the unique needs of each campus and are tailored to respond to existing programs, available funding, and personnel. The NISS team meets with the institution’s leadership to secure support and alignment with all recommendations.


Playbook Delivery

The NISS Executive Director and leadership team presents the final Playbook to the institution’s President, Provost, cabinet, diagnostic project team, campus stakeholders, key leadership, and invited guests. This 90-minute virtual meeting provides time for participants to provide in-person response to the recommendations as well as discuss next steps and additional available implementation resources. NISS coaches establish a follow-up channel for product-level client feedback and send a recording of the Playbook Delivery Presentation to the project team.

The Playbook

The NISS team delivers a tailored set of recommendations for each school. The Playbook summarizes the data, highlights areas of promise, and directs clients’ attention to areas of opportunity and growth. In addition to the school-specific and data-driven set of recommendations, clients are also directed to resources like the NISS Accelerator courses so they can explore how these recommendations would impact student success on their campuses. The Playbook clients receive at the end of the Diagnostic and Playbook engagement is roughly 50 pages in length. Below is an abridged sample of the Playbook.