Today (Dec. 19), the Education Department released a draft of the future rating system that will be used to analyse the performance of more than 7,000 U.S colleges and universities. The institutions will be grouped into only three categories: good, bad, in between. The plan does not include a ranking system.
This project is considered to be of great complexity, its development being continuously hindered by the lack of data available. As a result, the Obama administration was not able to release an actual rating plan, only the “draft framework”. The first version of this system is said to be released in about eight months, so earlier than the start of the next school year.
Even so, as new data will become available, the system will always be subject to change, needing periodical upgrade.
This project was conceived sixteen months ago when President Obama informed the public about a college rating plan that tries to analyses each of these institutions. The parameters examined will be: the college’s accessibility to lower-income students, how affordable it is to them, how many students receive federal Pell grants, students’ academic progress and how easily they can find jobs and pay off their student loans.
Other factors that might be included are the number of students whose parents did not attend college. As a result, federal aid (worth billions of dollars) can be distributed according to the ratings.
The president received many critics from Republicans and the higher education community, saying that the system might discourage colleges from accepting high-risk students. Also, the plan needed a method of analyzing what students actually learn.
Collages are concerned about being compared to schools with different profiles (for example, those specialized in computer programming will be considered better schools than the open-admissions ones, that train social workers). Educators consider that ideally, the system should compare engineering programs to other engineering programs. Same goes for philosophy or other related programs.
Officials announced that all of these concerns would be taken into consideration. The Education department is searching for a way to include all of these factors into an equal method of analysis. At this time, they haven’t found a solution, but are looking into it.
Ted Mitchell, the department’s under secretary stated that the majority of colleges will fall into the intermediate category, between high-performing and low-performing. He considers that this system will offer students “credible, clear, easy to understand information” helping them in their search for a collage that suits their needs.
Image Source: On Point