Dear Secretary Cardona,
As an educator, you have recently expressed your concern that higher education institutions “that serve the most students with the most to gain from a college degree have the fewest resources to invest in student success.” At U.S. News & World Report, we commend your dedication to these institutions, especially in a time where it is crucial to equip students with the necessary skills to excel in a complex work environment.
When you deliver your keynote address at the “Conference on Best Practices for Law School Data” today at Harvard Law School – one of the most highly-resourced academic institutions in America – we would like to offer some suggestions on how you can leave a lasting impact on students. In short: require more data, not less.
With nearly 40 years of experience and expertise in collecting and reporting on data from thousands of educational institutions, U.S. News is a trusted authority in compiling complex information and presenting it in a clear and accessible manner to students and the general public. Our rankings help aspiring students as they take their first step in ensuring their career opportunities, earning potential and quality of life. This is especially important in today’s environment where the admissions process has become increasingly competitive, less transparent and more time consuming. As tuition continues to skyrocket, students require reliable information to guide them in their decision-making process.
In addition, our team of dedicated expert journalists works tirelessly to collect and analyze data from a diverse range of educational institutions, many of which do not have the same level of resources as Harvard. This is because our readers and users are interested in a wide variety of schools beyond just the top-ranked institutions.
Over the past few decades, we have also been committed to making data more transparent and accessible. As one of the co-founders of the Common Data Set, U.S. News has been at the forefront of developing standardized methods of data collection that have made large swaths of data available to the general public.
Regrettably, not all schools make their data readily available to the general public. For instance, law schools are required to report extensive data about their institutions to the American Bar Association, but often only disclose a portion of that information on their own websites. Similarly, while undergraduate programs are mandated to disclose detailed information to the federal government, there is a dearth of federal data on graduate schools, leaving prospective students with limited resources to rely on when making important decisions about their future.
U.S. News will continue to fight for access, transparency and accountability of data that empowers students to make informed decisions. You recently stated, “As leaders, it’s time for us to stand up for students and expect more in education.” We couldn’t agree more.
Therefore, we call on you today to use your platform and voice to demand that all schools – including elite law schools – provide open access to all of their undergraduate and graduate school data, using a common data set. This would enable prospective students and their families to make meaningful comparisons between institutions, based on factors such as financial information, admissions data, and outcome statistics, including employment rates at graduation.
We at U.S. News believe that every student deserves access to high quality, transparent and reliable information about their education. We hope that you will join us in our efforts to promote greater transparency and accountability in higher education and work to ensure that all students have the information they need to succeed.
Source: US News