Senators Propose Comprehensive Collection of College Student Data

"A bipartisan group of senators is proposing a major overhaul of the way the federal government collects data on college students, setting the stage for a showdown over how to balance student privacy with a growing interest in measuring college outcomes," The Wall Street Journal reports.

Sens. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah), Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), Bill Cassidy (R., La.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.)—all members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee—on Monday introduced legislation that would overturn a decade-old ban on collecting individual student data that track enrollment, completion and graduate success.

Advocates say such granular data would help families and lawmakers make more informed decisions about which schools and even majors prepare students for successful careers.

 
 

The bill, the College Transparency Act, calls for the creation of a secure data system within the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics and would allow the center to gather information from different federal agencies for a single, user-friendly system. It would also take into account transfer and part-time students.

... To appease those who have historically opposed such detailed data collection for privacy concerns, the bill prohibits the sale of data and prohibits law enforcement from accessing the information. It also bars the government from creating any sort of ranking or rating system based on the data, as the Obama administration had tried and failed to do.  

The legislation is backed by a number of higher-education industry groups, including the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the American Association of Community Colleges and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators."

 

Publication Date: 5/15/2017

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