President Barack Obama has drawn the fire from college presidents around the country for a proposal to adopt a rating system for the nation’s colleges and universities that the President says its designed to combat rising college tuition costs and make colleges more accountable providing a quality education that results in students being able to get a good job.
“His plan will measure college performance through a new ratings system so students and families have the information to select schools that provide the best value,” said a White House press release. “And after this ratings system is well established, Congress can tie federal student aid to college performance so that students maximize their federal aid at institutions providing the best value. The President’s plan will also take down barriers that stand in the way of competition and innovation, particularly in the use of new technology, and shine a light on the most cutting-edge college practices for providing high value at low costs.”
For years, ratings of colleges have been done by publications like Barron’s and U.S. News & World Report. The system Obama proposes would give colleges ratings like excellent, good, fair or poor.
Many education leaders have concerns about the federal government taking on a ranking system, particularly since those might be used to penalize schools with a low rating. Obama wants Congress to use the ratings to allocate federal student loan and grant money worth billions each year.
University presidents from around the country have said that rating universities isn’t that simple.
“I do not believe a ‘one-size-fits-all’ rating system for public and private universities and colleges is an effective approach,” said Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum. “Given its support for higher education, it is reasonable for the federal government to expect our institutions to provide quality education and a pathway for students to succeed, but there are too many variables and widely-differing factors relating to measuring achievement to enable a national ratings system to work.”