Accountability Priorities

  • Support the continued development of intra-state data systems and the advancement of an integrated network of state data systems, based on common data elements, to serve as a privacy-protected state-based system of student level longitudinal data.

  • Discourage federal efforts that require states to collect overly burdensome or intrusive student data, while supporting data collection that directly informs key educational outcomes.

  • Oppose any attempts to impose federal cost containment measures on institutions.

  • Encourage the adoption and use, where applicable, of voluntary reporting structures such as the Voluntary System of Accountability.

  • Focus national educational attainment goals and federal evaluation efforts on the absolute number of Americans with a degree or certificate, rather than solely on institutional graduation rates.

  • Work to devise more accurate completion measures that encompass the persistence and success of all students, including transfer and part-time students.

  • To the extent that graduation rates are used as a metric in institutional evaluation, improve their value by using students’ federal financial aid status as a proxy for income, and assure that these disaggregated rates are reported in IPEDS. These graduation rates were identified in the HEOA for the following groups: Pell Grant recipients, Subsidized Stafford Loan recipients who are not Pell Grant recipients, and students who do not receive any federal aid or who receive only unsubsidized loans.

 

Accountability

Public colleges and universities have an obligation to be responsible and trusted guardians of the public’s resources and to communicate clearly and effectively about their stewardship of the public’s investment in them. AASCU is committed to greater public accountability and has been a leader in promoting improved data systems, greater transparency and increased focus on student learning outcomes. AASCU calls on its members to participate in the AASCU/ APLU Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA), designed to improve transparency of institutional and student data, core educational outcomes and student engagement. To date, 60 percent of AASCU members have signed on to this initiative.

The Higher Education Act requires colleges and universities to be more accountable, particularly in relation to transparency in college costs. AASCU worked with Congress to ensure these new provisions take into account the unique nature of costs in public higher education and tuition-setting authority of public colleges. AASCU helped to secure several provisions, including recognition of the measure of tuition in dollars and not just percentages; the impact of state appropriations on tuition levels; and the role of tuition-setting authority on the price of tuition. AASCU believes that the federal effort to engage states in the higher education debate through maintenance of effort and supplementing requirements—not supplanting—is an important piece in the college cost equation and will continue to advocate for strengthening these provisions.

President Obama has called for the United States to be first in the world in the number of people with a postsecondary degree by the year 2020. AASCU applauds this focus on producing more graduates, as well as shifting the accountability spotlight to increasing the number of graduates produced by institutions, rather than just on graduation rates. AASCU will support efforts to strengthen both government oversight and institutional accountability to eliminate fraud and abuse in federal student aid programs.