Rating (And Berating) The Ratings

"The Obama administration on Thursday released hundreds of pages of formal comments on its proposed college rating system, documents that mostly underscore the deep reservations that many higher education leaders have about the plan but also highlight pockets of support," Inside Higher Ed reports.

"Nearly every major higher education group submitting comments on the rating system expressed concerns about the proposal. ...

Comments from other higher education associations largely echoed the concerns of many college leaders: they worry that a ratings system will create improper incentives for institutions, undermine the value of higher education and cut off access to institutions that serve low-income and underprivileged students. ...

Among the philosophical questions that the respondents were encouraged to consider was exactly what purpose the new federal system should strive to fulfill. The Education Department's own request framed the issue plainly, noting how different the metrics and approach might be if the system is primarily for accountability as opposed to providing consumer information.

Several commenters urged the department to focus on the former rather than the latter. ...

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators suggested that the government consider selecting 10 common metrics that would apply to all institutions, then give colleges flexibility to choose five more, say, from a set of 40 or so others that they believe 'best reflect the institution and its students. This could provide valuable context to the standardized ratings done by the federal government.'"

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