Bill to improve college data collection for students

WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) — Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate to modernize the data colleges provide to students and families to help them have clear information about student outcomes when picking a higher education institution.

Senator Tim Kaine is one of the co-sponsors of the College Transparency Act that would increase reporting on student outcomes like enrollment, completion and post-college success.

According to a release, collecting and streamlining better data will also help institutions and policymakers deliver better outcomes for students.

The information will let students and their families see how other people of differing backgrounds have succeeded at a given institution and help them find the school or schools best suited for their needs and desired outcomes.

“Deciding on the right pathway after high school is a pivotal moment that can open up doors for years to come,” said Kaine. “We need to do all that we can to empower students and families with more complete information to support making that important decisions. The College Transparency Act is needed by schools and students alike, and fixes a major reporting gap in higher education data.”

University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan and workforce groups have praised the bill, saying improving data is critical to helping students succeed.

“The College Transparency Act is a step in the right direction for improving federal data, which is currently limited, and at times, inaccurate,” said Sullivan. “Improving data not only helps students and families with the important decisions associated with choosing a college, but also helps institutions of higher education make strides on campus with regard to student success.”

The release says the current college reporting system is burdensome on institutions and provides little practical information for students and their families because of significant gaps in data reporting.

Under the new system created by the bill, institutions would be able to securely report privacy-protected, student-level data to the National Center for Education Statistics, which would be responsible for securely storing student information, working with relevant federal agencies to generate outcome reports, and presenting summary information on a user-friendly website for students and families to access.

The other senators who introduced/co-sponsored the bill are Orrin Hatch of Utah, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.