Local State Senator Steve Glazer is taking a crack at improving the performance of public universities in California, introducing a series of bills that would establish a database to monitor students habits as well as a state-run office to hold higher education systems accountable for their students' performances.
Introduced by Glazer (D-Orinda), CA Senate Bill 2 would establish a system to collect data on college students' progress and actions from the time they start school, until they graduate into the workforce.
That bill would be complemented by SB 3, which would create the Office of Higher Education Coordination, Accountability and Performance, an office that would monitor the data, conduct studies and serve as an advisory board to the governor and state legislature.
SB 3 was written by State Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), Glazer's co-sponsor in both efforts, which were announced last month.
The legislators hope that the combined bills will provide educational institutions with the information and guidance needed to deliver a cost-effective public education that is responsive to students' needs while also reducing academic and workforce disparities in the Golden State.
"If we are to accept the challenge of preparing our students for the future, it is imperative that we understand the role that synthesized data plays in boosting and improving our education system," Glazer said in a statement. "The point of coordinating data is to make good and informed policy decisions that lead to student success in higher education and ultimately the workforce."
Data collected would include demographics, courses students are enrolling in, degrees or certificates they are pursuing, financial aid being utilized, and other points of interest that would be used to track a higher education students progress, or lack thereof, academically.
Glazer's office said the data would become especially helpful in identifying and "narrowing or eliminating" disparities among students of ethnic groups or disadvantageous economic backgrounds.
"Currently, no one system synthesizes this information -- it's all disconnected," Allen added. "So, education leaders and the public do not have access to data that could guide reforms and improvements that would greatly improve students' performance and their ultimate employment."
A review committee separate from the office would be installed to monitor the creation of the database, and would be packed with at least 10 representatives from as many school agencies across the state, such as the Department of Education, California Community Colleges, the California State University and University of California.
Both legislators are currently enrolled in leadership positions for guiding the states efforts to improve student success, goals highlighted by Gov. Gavin Newsom during his 2018 election campaign. Allen is the chairman of the Senate Education Committee while Glazer chairs the Senate Select Committee on Student Success.