After meeting with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, President Riggs shared her thoughts on Obama's plan for federal government involvement in institutions of higher education with the Washington Post She focused on the drawbacks of a government rating system and its unintended consequences. This column was published on November 23.
From the Washington Post:
Last week I was among a small group of college presidents who were invited to discuss the proposed system with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Secretary Duncan said that the government wants to assure that families and students have accurate information about institutions of higher education as they make their college choices. This is a goal that I fully support. Colleges should be as transparent as possible about student outcomes. At my institution we share graduation rates, average loan debt, and career and graduate school placements with prospective students, and we would be willing to share more. During the meeting, our group agreed that sharing clear information was important and that we would be willing to develop new methods for sharing our data in ways that could be more easily understood.
So if we are so willing to be transparent, why are those of us in higher education concerned about this new ratings initiative? And why should the public be concerned as well?
The “twist” is that the proposed rating system will not just require colleges and universities to provide more information about their students’ outcomes. Rather, it will give college and universities a rating based on metrics that could include the percentage of students receiving Pell grants, average tuition and loan debt, graduation and transfer rates, graduate earnings, and advanced degrees.