Friday, December 19, 2014

Tentative and Incomplete

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 19th, 2014

The Education Department’s “framework” for its college-ratings plan is surprisingly tentative, filled with verbs like “exploring” and “considering.” It can be seen as a smart move: Kick the ratings can down the road, telegraph what might be coming, get more stakeholder involvement, and so on. But it can also be seen as an OMG moment: After so much effort, so many meetings, and so much chatter, there remain far too many questions unanswered and far too many ratings criteria ill-defined.
The department is considering three categories of variables: access, affordability, and student success. The department has a long history measuring access. So it’s no surprise that the access variables are the best developed. The calculations are mostly straightforward (e.g., percentage of students receiving Pell Grants has been reported for a long time; first-generation college status can be calculated directly from FAFSA), and the “considering” and “exploring” verbs appear only once (in a discussion about family contribution).

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