The answer to the ultimate question of dropping out, graduating, and unit records

As someone who blogs about K-12 and higher education, I should perhaps do something productive with this crossover, right? And since at the conclusion of my next solar circumnavigation I’m going to be the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe, and Everything (at least according to Douglas Adams), while I may not know the ultimate question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, at least I can frame the ultimate question of dropping out, graduating, and the unit-record database controversy:

Is there a way to collect information efficiently that would allow us to track high school graduation and also college attainment given transfers among institutions and address the student-privacy concerns of those who oppose a federal unit-record database?

I think the answer is a fortunate yes. Oh, wait.  That’s not the ultimate question.  The ultimate question is How?

And for that answer, you’ll have to wait until I give a talk, “The Graduation-Rate Debate, Higher-Education Unit Records, and Public Policy: Serious Academic Discussions, Political Tragedy, or Farce?” at the Minnesota Population Center Monday, November 6, 2006, 12:15-1:15 pm. (I’ll also be gut-checking the higher-ed piece with a few institutional-research folks beforehand.)

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