Feb. 19, 2007

Huge IPEDS Lives

The U.S. Education Department is quietly moving ahead with plans to
significantly expand the information and data it collects from colleges each
year through an online survey - including an entirely new section that would
require institutions to report on the accountability measures they use and
their scores on those tests or tools.

The proposal appears to be another prong in the department's multi-faceted
campaign to carry out the recommendations of Education Secretary Margaret
Spellings' Commission on the Future of Higher Education.
<>  By proposing this
expansion of what it collects through the Integrated Postsecondary Education
Data System (IPEDS), the department could go a long way (without potentially
controversial legislation or regulatory changes) toward achieving its goal
of establishing a federal system for reporting student learning outcomes and
other information on colleges' performance, as called for in the final
report of Spellings Commission. The department's announcement says that most
of the new information it is seeking to collect would be added to the
department's existing Web site for college information, the College
Opportunities <>  Online Locator.

Inside Higher Ed reported <>
in December that the department was contemplating such an expansion, which
its officials had internally dubbed "Huge IPEDS," as an alternative to the
more controversial federal
<>  "unit records"
system. (IPEDS is the federal government's primary database for information
about colleges, their staffs and their students, although it doesn't collect
information about individual students, like the unit records system the
department also coverts.) In recent weeks, department officials had seemed
to back away from the idea, telling a meeting of college association leaders
as recently as this month that no such expansion of IPEDS was planned soon.

But in a January 24 announcement
v/2007/pdf/E7-968.pdf>  in the Federal Register, the department seemed to be
laying the groundwork for just that. 

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