Some leery of gov’t access

Bryce Haugen

The federal government is considering changing the way it keeps track of students.

U.S. Department of Education officials are studying whether to require all U.S. colleges to release specific information – including grades and financial aid data – about each of their students. Currently, colleges provide the department with summaries that include general data about graduation rates and student aid.

The new tracking system would be set up to make schools more accountable in their net prices and graduation rates, according to officials quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Officials said the current system does not accurately measure how well colleges educate students.

But not everybody said they think making such a change is a good idea.

Marvin Marshak, a University professor, said he does not think the proposal is necessary.

“It’s a solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist,” he said. “There are privacy issues and bureaucracy problems with this.”

Marshak said there is enough bureaucracy and that the new legislation would not solve any problems.

“What if the government gets a grade wrong?” Marsak said.

But fourth-year sociology student Sarah J. Hansen said she thinks the proposed change will help measure universities’ progress.

“I think it’s important to keep track of how well students are doing so you can make changes to improve (education),” she said. “In a large university, it’s hard to keep track of how people are doing.”

Other students said they are leery of the proposal.

“It ultimately should be the students’ choice whether or not they be included in this,” said Sean Narog, a first-year College of Liberal Arts student. Because they would most likely best represent the views of their students, public universities should be able to choose to participate, she said.

Laura Johnson, a first-year student studying Asian languages and literatures, said she agreed.

“It would be good to have this sort of thing on a voluntary level, but it is highly inappropriate for the federal government to make it compulsory,” she said.

“Even though the (federal) government is giving money to the state institutions Ö it is still the state that should have ultimate authority over them.”

Johnson said the move was “symptomatic” of how the federal government uses money – on which states become dependent – to control what should be local decisions.

The U.S. Congress will determine the fate of the proposal next year when it considers reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which governs most federal student-aid programs.

– Lacey Crisp contributed to this report.