Need for better data trumps need for college ratings

Matt Zalaznick's picture

The Obama administration is moving full steam ahead with its plan to rate colleges, with public hearings beginning today and the goal of releasing a draft ratings system in the spring that will be finalized by December 2014. The White House plans to gauge the performance of colleges based on three categories of measures:

  • Access, such as how many students receive Pell grants
  • Affordability, such as tuition, scholarships, and debt burdens
  • Outcomes, such as graduation rates, earnings, and advanced degree attainment

The specific methodology used to generate ratings of college quality is always subject to debate. Beth Akers and I have outlined the technical challenges facing the effort to rate colleges based on student outcomes, and I have also detailed the reasons that “comparison groups” are a subpar approach.

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