NEC Weighs in on College Rating System

In August 2013, President Barack Obama unveiled the Administration’s “Plan for Making College More Affordable.” Included in that plan is a new college rating system, to be implemented by 2015. Under this plan, the Department of Education will develop a new ratings system to help students compare the value offered by colleges and encourage colleges to improve, and those results will be published on the College Scorecard.

Early in 2014, the NEC Higher Education Committee met to discuss concerns about this new rating system, and agreed that the collective concerns of the group should be articulated, both to the Department of Education, and to the region’s Congressional delegation.  Based of feedback from many Council members, the Council developed a set of principles regarding the implementation of the college rating system.  Specifically, the Council’s principles urge the Department of Ed to employ careful design and testing, to improve accuracy of data, and to recognize different categories of institutions in developing the rating system.

In May 2014, the Council wrote to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and to the New England delegation to share these principles.

Many members of Congress have also expressed concerns about the new rating system in recent months.  The Council’s letter echos similar concerns raised by the Massachusetts House delegation in a March 2014 letter to Secretary Duncan.  And according to a report in Inside Higher Ed, the same week that the NEC wrote to Duncan and legislators, Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) wrote in an email to fellow lawmakers that he hopes to insert a provision into upcoming spending bills that would prohibit the Education Department from moving ahead with the ratings system.

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