We spend so much time talking about the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (or the replacement of NCLB, whichever term you prefer), that we can forget that reauthorization of the Higher Education Act is waiting in the wings as well.
Earlier this spring, Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, issued a series of white papers on some of the top issues the Senate would consider as it began to dig into HEA reauth. One of those topics was consumer information, what many of us better know as student data.
Last week, I submitted a formal response to the Senate’s higher education student data call. In doing so, I noted: “As a nation, we have long said that information is power, using the call for greater knowledge to rally support for education. But our educational infrastructure itself has not provided the powerful information we need. Higher education has fallen short in its ability to both capture and apply data that can be used to improve how students learn, how they are taught, and how we measure it.”
This should come as no surprise. In talking about the work of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and its focus on linking student outcome data to determine the effectiveness of its own programs I stated:
All have a right to know the difference between a successful school of education and a not-so-successful one. That difference really can only be revealed through the collection, analysis, and utilization of outcome data. It is not enough to know that future teachers entering schools of education bring a certain high school class rank, GPA, or SAT/ACT score into the process. Yes, the inputs are important. But far more important is what they do with those tools. And we cannot measure that impact based simply on academic performance leading to the award of a college degree. It requires post-graduation data that can be tracked back to the degree-granting institution.
My full statement, including responses to a number of specific queries from Senator Alexander’s staff can be found here. The initial white paper from the Senate HELP Committee on consumer information (and other topics like accreditation) can be found here.