The Higher Education Response to College Ratings

Noah Sudow

The American Council on Education, yesterday submitted their public comment to the Department of Education in response to the December college ratings framework.„ The letter was a collective response on behalf of „Ιalmost every higher education institutional association, 26 overall „Ιincluding AASCU, AACC, APLU and EDUCAUSE.„ „The flavor of the four page letter- can be summed up in this one sentence:

the document released on December 19th is so incomplete, tentative, and amorphous, that it is impossible to offer the type of critique that this undertaking would otherwise require.

The letter was able to provide high level negative feedback and brought up three main issues:

  • The ratings proposal is trying to be both a system of accountability and a consumer information system, which are two completely different objectives.
  • The federal government doesn't have the ability to collect the data needed for the metrics they established and therefore shouldn't release ratings that are incomplete or potentially inaccurate.
  • Grouping higher education institutions is incredibly difficult as there are numerous factors that separate institutions, especially in regards to mission.

Overall their recommendation to the Department is to provide more detail before publishing ratings, especially in regards to the formula and groupings that will be used.„ „If that wasn't enough- they go even further and say the Department should abandon the plan and instead focus on how to meet the two different objectives of the proposal.„Ι In their opinion, for accountability the Department should work through the existing TRIAD system (accreditation, eligibility and state authorization) and for consumer information there should be„ better consolidation and use of the current public information systems.

This is a guest post by Noah Sudow, senior education policy associate at Grayling. Noah is the former Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the Ohio Board of Regents.