President Trump’s executive order on higher education is being covered largely for the portion of the order that focuses on divisive issues related to speech on campus. This coverage misses the potentially important steps taken in the order to improve our nation’s postsecondary data availability.
The executive order directs the U.S. Department of Education to publish program-level student outcomes data in the College Scorecard that include earnings, student debt, default rates, and loan repayment rates. Systems and colleges can use this new information to develop and implement targeted strategies for supporting student access and success. While this executive order has potential to make new program-level data available to colleges, students, and communities, more federal policy action is still needed. The College Transparency Act, a bipartisan bill reintroduced last week, would update the Higher Education Act to create a secure, privacy-protected data system that includes key student outcomes.
These federal efforts to expand and strengthen the national postsecondary data infrastructure will build on the leadership of organizations such as the National Student Clearinghouse and its Postsecondary Data Partnership, which was developed to support institutions of higher education that are creating a comprehensive picture of the progress and outcomes of all their students.
“JFF recognizes the value of access to data in higher education. Not only is this information needed for students and families to make critical decisions about where to go to college, but data on student outcomes is also invaluable to colleges working to create more relevant and effective programs for students. We are committed to helping our postsecondary systems and college partners obtain access to valuable, high-quality student outcomes data,” said Michael Collins, vice president, JFF.
JFF is pleased to see that the executive order also requires the Secretary of Education to compile information about successful state and institutional practices to promote students’ timely and affordable completion of postsecondary education, including strategies to better facilitate transfer of credits and increase access to dual enrollment. This will provide colleges with a valuable resource about what works to improve student success.
For more information on federal policy implications, contact Lexi Barrett and for information regarding postsecondary data, contact Nyema Mitchell.