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Congress Focuses on Postsecondary Education Data

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May 19, 2013

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Congress Focuses on Postsecondary Education Data

In recent weeks, there has been renewed attention on data related to students postsecondary and career success. There is a growing realization among policymakers that current postsecondary data systems, which nationally only collect information on first-time, full-time students, leave a large number of unanswered questions.

In the House, H.R. 1949, the Improving Postsecondary Education Data for Students Act, was introduced by Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) and quickly marked up by the House Education and the Workforce Committee. The markup was held on Thursday, May 16, and the bill was approved unanimously. This bill would convene an advisory committee to conduct a study on the information students and families have, want and need when researching their postsecondary education options. The bill is essentially designed to explore how to provide better consumer information, including the possibility of wage data linked to individual postsecondary programs, and enhance higher education transparency. It will be considered on the House floor next week.

In the Senate, another more rigorous bill has been introduced. S. 915, introduced by Sens, Wyden (D-OR), Rubio (R-FL), and others, would update reporting requirements for institutions of higher education and provide more accurate and complete data on student retention, graduation, and earnings outcomes on postsecondary students. The bill, titled the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, works through provisions that would create a unit record data system to match student records with employment and earnings data.

While both of these bills focus on the potential to provide better information to prospective students about postsecondary options, they also have implications for accountability systems and program improvement efforts at the postsecondary level. ACTE will be following the efforts carefully to determine implications for CTE programs.

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