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APLU Vice President Christine Keller Testifies before House Education Committee

Urges Better Use of Data in HEA Reauthorization; Promotes Student Achievement Measure and Voluntary System of Accountability as ways to give students, families, stakeholders better, more meaningful information

Christine Keller, APLU vice president for research and policy analysis and executive director for the Voluntary System of Accountability and Student Achievement Measure testified on Tuesday, March 17 before the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training hearing on “Strengthening America’s Higher Education System.”

The hearing was designed to seek expert input as lawmakers craft the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Lawmakers sought to gain a better understanding of reforms needed to help more students complete for advanced, quality education without absorbing unmanageable debt. Keller was asked to testify on ways to improve the use of data in federal education policy.

“Access to clear, meaningful data has become increasingly important to answer questions and provide essential information for higher education stakeholders – for student and families to make more informed decisions about where to attend college; for policymakers to determine allocations of public resources and evaluate institutional effectiveness; and for college leaders to facilitate innovation and successful student outcomes,” Keller testified.

Three other witnesses testified in addition to Keller:

  • Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University,
  • David A. Bergeron, vice president for postsecondary education policy at the Center for American Progress and former acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education at the U.S. Department of Education, and
  • Michael J. Bennett, associate vice president for financial aid at St. Petersburg College

Keller spoke of how lessons learned from the Student Achievement Measure (SAM) and the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) can improve higher education policies for students, families, and taxpayers.

“The VSA and SAM have reinforced the importance of publicly reporting accurate and understandable data for students and families, policymakers, and institutions,” Keller said. “It is important for those of us who collect and disseminate data to work together to better align definitions, enhance comparability, and minimize the reporting burden.”

Some of the key lessons Keller listed included building a foundation of trustworthy data; leveraging data already collected and reported; reporting meaningful, limited information at the federal level; and educating users on key metrics.

To learn more about the hearing, read witness testimony, or to watch an archived webcast, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=398531. You can also read Keller’s full testimony here.

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