Draft Policies for Consideration by the NC-SARA Board at its May 14, 2014 Meeting

NC-SARA is a young and still-developing initiative. There are two issues that have been previously discussed but not yet established in policy: a) the collection of data from institutions that participate in SARA, and b) the reporting of complaints lodged against SARA institutions for activities carried out under SARA provisions.

Data on cross-state delivery of postsecondary distance education is sorely lacking for an activity that has become a significant part of higher education delivery in our country. NC-SARA data collection is designed to improve that situation by building, over time, a picture of the extent to which SARA institutions are serving students who live in other states.

There is no consolidated information on student complaints about distance education providers. SARA staff are recommending a basic approach to the issue for SARA institutions that will focus on complaints that are not resolved at the institutional level.

To help form recommendations on these issues, SARA staff assembled an advisory committee, comprised of individuals recommended by the presidents of the four regional compacts. Staff added two local individuals with relevant expertise. A list of the names and affiliations of all those individuals is below. We thank them for their assistance.

The staff and members of the advisory committee have in various venues over the last few weeks circulated drafts and provided descriptions of these recommended policies. We are posting these to solicit your comments. Please reply with your feedback on these policies by May 12, 2014 to: information@nc-sara.org 

Staff has consulted with EducationCounsel to ensure that the proposed NC-SARA data collection policies will protect student privacy and comply with requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Policy on data to be submitted by SARA institutions

Institutions participating in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) shall annually submit the following data to the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements:

  1. The number of students enrolled in the institution via distance education delivered outside the home state of the institution, reported by state, territory, or district in which the students reside.
  2. A list of programs that a student may complete without on-campus attendance (using the U.S. Department of Education definition of a distance education program).

NC-SARA shall convene a technical advisory panel to help develop data submission protocols; that information will be made available to SARA institutions well before data submission is required. Data and information submitted through this process will be reported on the NC-SARA website. NC-SARA will not collect individually identifiable student data and will comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Beginning in 2016, institutions participating in SARA will be required to further disaggregate the above enrollment data by program of study.

Policy on reporting of complaints

States participating in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements shall report the following information to the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements on a quarterly basis:

  1. The number of complaints, by institution, appealed to the state’s SARA portal agency after the person making the complaint has completed the institution’s or governing board’s (if relevant) complaint resolution process;
  2. The resolution of those complaints in the aggregate, by institution: number resolved in favor of the person making the complaint, number resolved in favor of the institution, number resolved by agreement, and number pending resolution.

NC-SARA shall form a technical advisory panel to determine the protocols of this reporting. NC-SARA shall advise participating SARA states of those provisions well before data submission is required. Data and information submitted through this process will be reported on the NC-SARA website. NC-SARA will not collect individually identifiable student data and will comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

NC-SARA Data Committee Participant List

Michael Ball
Associate Director
Washington Student Achievement Council

Beth Bean
Chief Research Officer
Colorado Department of Higher Education

Kris Biesinger
Senior Advisor
Southern Regional Education Board

Marianne Boeke
Senior Research Associate
National Center for Higher Education Management Systems

Monnica Chan
Director of Policy and Research
New England Board of Higher Education

Sandy Doran
Regional SARA Director
New England Board of Higher Education

Jennifer Parks
Regional SARA Director
Midwestern Higher Education Compact

Russell Poulin
Deputy Director, Research and Analysis
WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies

Ken Sauer
Senior Associate Commissioner for Research and Academic Affairs
Indiana Commission for Higher Education

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