By Richard Vedder
Among the most frustrating things as a member of the Spellings Commission on the Future of Higher Education was the absolute fanatical opposition of the colleges to any federal unit record system that would allow us to trace student performance from kindergarten through college. Failure to do this now deprives us of needed insights as to why students dropout and fail, as well as why students succeed.
The Bad Guys have won, and Secretary Spellings has thrown in the towel on a national unit record systems (which many conservatives opposed because of concerns of excessive federal power, a concern I often share; colleges, however, have prostituted themselves to the Feds already, and if Washington is going to drop money out of airplanes over campuses, the Feds certainly at least ought to know better what is happening to the persons supposedly benefiting from the funds).
We learn now that at the state level, major efforts are going forward to develop not only state unit record systems, but to make them compatible with one another and to trade information, dealing with the serious issue of interstate mobility of students over time. I think this is a constructive development worthy of our praise.