Community College Leaders Give Obama’s Ratings System A Fresh Grilling

Career College Central summary:

  • This week, the Department of Education faced more grilling from college leaders over President Obama’s planned college-ratings system, with trustees and presidents at the Community College National Legislative Summit questioning the feasibility and fairness of such a system. At the outset of a session on the ratings, Jeff Appel, a deputy under secretary of education, acknowledged "the challenges and pitfalls" the administration faces in developing a college-rating tool.
  • Attendees at Tuesday’s session were not convinced. They asked how the administration would account for differences in institutional mission and demographics, and warned again of the unintended consequences of its plan. They complained that community colleges already face too many reporting burdens, and they worried aloud that the president's ratings would quickly evolve into rankings.
  • Appel reassured them that the administration had no plans to rank colleges, and said the department was weighing how it might adjust for mission and demographics, without rendering institutional comparisons meaningless. Under Obama’s plan, colleges that performed well in the ratings would be rewarded with additional federal dollars while colleges that performed poorly would lose some aid. Skeptics fear such a system would punish colleges that serve many low-income and minority students and would encourage open-access institutions to tighten their entrance criteria or dumb down their standards.

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