Press Releases

Congresswoman Lori Trahan Introduces The Clean Data in Higher Education Act

This legislation has been endorsed by: Institute for Higher Education Policy, New America, and The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS).

Washington, September 20, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Lori Trahan (D-MA-03) introduced The Clean Data in Higher Education Act, H.R. 4430. This legislation would clean up and eliminate data mismatches in our higher education system. Doing this will create a more transparent and equitable system that solves how institutions are defined by tracking data at the campus-level, and by maintaining the definition of an institution consistently across different agencies, offices, and purposes. 

 

“A college education can be one of the biggest financial investments families or individuals make. We can’t expect students or parents to be able to make informed decisions about which institution is right for their circumstances if the data underlying key metrics about their prospective return on investment are flawed. I’m proud to introduce legislation that addresses some of these data reporting inconsistencies that lead to confusion in the college marketplace. Better data means better research and reporting which means a more transparent, fair, and effective college selection process for all,” said Congresswoman Trahan.

 

"The Clean Data in Higher Education Act would solve many of the data reporting inconsistencies that cause confusion in the field by aligning the identifiers of college campuses that researchers rely on. Students and families need consistent, accurate information to make informed choices, and this bill is an important step in that direction. We thank Representative Trahan for her leadership on this issue," said Clare McCann, Deputy Director for Federal Policy, New America 

 

“We are proud to support The Clean Data in Higher Education Act. This legislation would eliminate data mismatches in our higher education system to make information more user-friendly. It is an important step toward improving educational research that can support better outcomes for students, and we appreciate Representative Trahan’s work on this issue,”said Mamie Voight, Vice President of Policy Research at the Institute for Higher Education Policy.

 

Background:

Every year, each freestanding college in the US reports an array of institutional information to the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). This becomes an issue when certain institutions inaccurately report to the Department thereby giving students a misleading perspective on which campuses and locations give them the best chance of gaining their return on investment.

 

For instance, a university system, which includes a wide variety of campuses across states that produce different outcomes, can report to the Department of Education as a single entity. When students look up graduation rates or earnings on consumer tools like the College Scorecard or College Navigator, they can only see the average across all campuses in the state not for each individual campus.

 

This is not a problem just for students but also researchers and policy experts who have pointed out the inconsistencies in data matches and report that make it challenging for them to analyze trends and draw conclusions. 

 

Whether inadvertent or purposeful, an institution can obscure bad outcomes at one campus with decent outcomes with another. This information is used by the Department of Education to identify schools for program reviews, inform accreditation reviews, and has important implications for federal oversight.

 

A copy of the legislation can be found HERE:

 

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