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Report on the Feasibility of a Student Unit Record System within the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System March 22, 2005

The National Center for Education Statistics sent a report to Congress on March 21, 2005 that examines the feasibility of implementing a student unit record system to replace the student-related components of IPEDS. The report was initiated in response to growing interest within the postsecondary education community for more accurate measures of net price and graduation rates, especially measures that take into account institutional mission and student mobility.

NCES held three public meetings with key stakeholders from institutions, states and other interested parties to get feedback on such issues as burden, cost, and privacy, and to solicit information on other technical aspects of developing such a unit record system. This report details the issues discussed in these meetings. The feasibility study is an important first step to determine the problems that may be encountered and the issues to be addressed if IPEDS were redesigned to replace the five student-related pieces of the current IPEDS survey with a unit record system.

The report discusses the limitations of using the aggregate data collected through IPEDS in comparison with what would be available through unit record reporting. The feasibility study attempted to determine (1) whether such a system could be constructed technically and effectively, and (2) whether the federal government should develop such a system. Ultimately, Congress will decide; no action can be taken unless Congress authorizes the redesign of IPEDS to include unit record reporting (through amendments to the Higher Education Act (HEA)) and appropriates the funds necessary to implement the system.

The full report may be accessed at: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2005160

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education