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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    In the System: Is Student Tracking Any Beneficial?

    The Commission on the Future of Higher Education recently published a report K12 education. Among several proposals, one sticks out in particular. The report suggests the creation of a student database for better tracking.

    The good news is that students will have anonymous status because they will be tracked by scrambled identification numbers. The bad news is that the tracking system does not really benefit college students.

    The report states that the database will allow consumers and policymakers to ‘make informed choices about how well colleges and universities are serving their students.’ The database would contain data on student grades, race, and transfer records among other information.

    For high school students, tracking of their gpa and standardized test scores can yield revealing information. And, it would be available across high schools. Those applying to colleges can benefit from the knowledge that their high school beats their neighborhood school by a significant margin.

    The current Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings, fails to outline the benefits of this system for all educational institutions. However, college students don’t take standardized tests. The only ones who do plan to go to graduate school. Thus, the spectrum of data only covers a certain portion of college students. Sure, there is a growing trend to go to graduate school. But, when we look at every college in the US, the trend just looks like its chipping at an iceberg.

    High school gpa gains some consistency, at least statewide because of Regents exams. However, college courses vary throughout colleges. An introductory Biology course at a research university like Stony Brook will significantly differ from one at a liberal arts school.

    Spellings was quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education: ‘Just like in every other area of American life, we have come to expect information when we buy something – particularly something that’s expensive, that’s so important for your life. We ought to know more.’

    However, such transparency might not be taken well among the different colleges. Does the brotherhood between the SUNYs have room for the entire league of Ivies? Although more and more colleges are joining together in protest of early admissions, not every college has. Until concrete benefits of such a system are made obvious, the database will only continue to exist as an ideal paradigm.

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