Professor Obama grades U.S. colleges, finds it tests him

Stefanie Botelho's picture

Grading U.S. colleges is harder than it seems.

The Education Department, charged by President Barack Obama to create a system rating more than 5,000 campuses on graduation rates, student debt and other outcomes, is finding that calibrating the metrics is complicated. The agency has delayed unveiling a draft until the fall, months later than planned.

Obama wants families to see which campuses offer the best value amid rising tuition, which has climbed eightfold at state schools in 30 years, while making colleges accountable for the federal student-aid dollars they receive. The department is grappling with scores of variables, said Tom Weko, who worked on the plan before leaving the agency in March. One example: schools with many graduates taking lower-paying jobs such as teaching would fare differently on an earnings measure, he said.

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