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Senators Introduce College Transparency Bill

A bipartisan bill would modernize the U.S. Department of Education's college reporting system for post-secondary data.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) is leading a bipartisan group of senators looking to reform the way that the U.S. Department of Education's National Center of Education Statistics collects information on post-secondary institutions. The College Transparency Act (CTA) would modernize the NCES college reporting system to include post-secondary data on student outcomes such as enrollment, completion and post-college success across colleges and majors.

While protecting the privacy of individual students, the use of such data will help inform students on how others with their backgrounds have succeeded at different institutions. The data will also guide students toward schools and programs of study that suit their needs and desires. The information will also help institutions and policymakers to improve the country's post-secondary education system through providing aggregate-level data.

"Where to go to college is a life-changing decision. It can set the stage for success or saddle students with overwhelming debt," said Cassidy. "With education loan debt at a record high, students should have the information to make the best decision for their futures."

This bill is supported by Louisiana State University president F. King Alexander, the Association of Big Ten Students, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Institute for Higher Education Policy and New America.

"The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act presents the perfect opportunity to incorporate the CTA to fill the major holes in higher education data that have been allowed to exist for far too long," said APLU president Peter McPherson.

Mamie Voight, vice president of policy research at IHEP, said she supports this legislation because it would overturn the ban on student-level data collections, which prohibits the federal government from collecting and reporting accurate data on student outcomes at each program, college and university in the U.S.

"By creating a secure, privacy protected student-level data network within the National Center for Education Statistics using strong security standards and data governance protocols, this bill will provide students with the knowledge they deserve while protecting their privacy," said Voight.

The full text of the legislation can be found here.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

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