The one thing so many people want to know about college graduates is what their job prospects really look like.

This is true whether graduates went to the oft-maligned for-profit schools or regular colleges.

According to a new report by the Government Accountability Office, however, many states already collect information about employment. As the GAO puts it:

Twenty-six states collect some employment-related data, such as data on salary and industry, on individual postsecondary graduates by linking student databases with states’ labor data, according to a national 2010 study of state education databases. However, some stakeholders cautioned against potentially inappropriate uses of the data, such as holding institutions accountable for the employment outcomes of graduates, noting that such outcomes are often beyond schools’ control. Additionally, some state officials said that they faced challenges in their data collection efforts, including the means by which they can appropriately link student and employment data and comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which prohibits disclosing a student’s education records without written consent.

Well good point but, as is true of so much about data collection and the federal government, it might be more useful to just clarify what’s appropriate and then aggressively work to collect that appropriate data.

Or, as GAO itself says, “we recommend that the Secretary of Education develop and disseminate guidance that clarifies the means by which state education agencies can share student records to facilitate obtaining graduates’ employment information while ensuring appropriate privacy protection under FERPA.”

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer