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They have been basing K-12 school grades on a single high-stakes test which most feel is just about meaningless. Now they are going to start in on grading colleges, and they have the nerve to compare it to buying a blender.

“It’s like rating a blender,” Jamienne Studley, a deputy under secretary at the Education Department, said to the college presidents after a meeting in the department’s Washington headquarters in November, according to several who were present. “This is not so hard to get your mind around.”
Talk about a condescending attitude?

And good old Arne Duncan's back again with the hackneyed term the "reformers" use to refer to public education.....the "status quo".

Arne's words:

   

“We have a financial and moral obligation to be good stewards of these dollars,” Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, said in an interview. He said schools often did a poor job of providing information to prospective students and their parents, making the choice of a college complicated. “To defend the status quo, for me, you can’t do that.”
Trust me the status quo is one heck of a lot better than turning schools over to management companies that are NOT regulated and have no oversight.

And now they want to take on the colleges. The college presidents are angry.

According to a New York Times article  Obama is getting a little belligerent about being questioned about the new policy.

   

But officials said Mr. Obama had repeatedly told his advisers that he was determined not to let college presidents off the hook. Aides said that after the president pledged to deal with rising college costs in his 2013 State of the Union address, he kept rejecting policy ideas as too timid and demanded tougher proposals.

    ....Some college presidents accused Mr. Obama and his top aides of being obstinate.

    ...Ms. Muñoz countered that Mr. Obama had no patience for anyone who attempted to block the effort.

    “For those who are making the argument that we shouldn’t do this, I think those folks could fairly have the impression that we’re not listening,” Ms. Muñoz said. “There is an element to this conversation which is, ‘We hope to God you don’t do this.’ Our answer to that is: ‘This is happening.’ ”

Let them off the hook? For what?

In a post from the Chronicle of Higher Education we learn that Arne Duncan told a committee they would go ahead with this even without the funding. BTW they are seeking millions in funding to grade colleges at a time that our government won't approve the unemployment pay extension, when food stamps are being cut, and our veterans are not being properly cared for.

College-Rating System Will Go Forward, Duncan Says

The U.S. Department of Education plans to continue its push for a college-rating system, even if Congress doesn’t shell out the $10-million the agency is requesting to develop the program and put it in place.

When Education Secretary Arne Duncan appeared before a Senate subcommittee that oversees appropriations for education on Wednesday to discuss the department’s proposed budget, Sen. Jerry Moran asked what the agency would do if it didn’t get the money.

Mr. Duncan responded by saying the department would move forward with the initiative, but the money "would be very, very beneficial."

It's hard to believe that public school teachers and parents across the country who are deeply concerned about Arne's policies are all wrong. It's hard to believe that college presidents around the country who are calling the president "obstinate" about policies they believe will be harmful are equally wrong.

Too many people in the field of education are stunned and appalled at this administration's educational policies.

It's time to listen to them. There's a word to describe when politicians and basketball players set themselves above those involved in the education system......it's called arrogance.

It's setting up to be a contest between educators and politicians. Doesn't need to be that way.

I often feel this administration has a punitive attitude toward public school teachers.  Perhaps college presidents are feeling a little like that now.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  Arne Duncan serves at the pleasure of the (8+ / 0-)

    President. It seems that the President is among the small number of Americans that view this Education Department as not a total failure. The buck on this one stops at the White House.

    "A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves." Edward R. Murrow

    by temptxan on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:36:16 AM PDT

  •  The Dept of Ed will rate colleges on (10+ / 0-)

    Access
    Affordability
    Outcomes

    I think that is information that college bound students and their parents would like to have. It may take a few years to get the metrics right, but these are real issues that the federal government should be measuring if it is going to play a significant role in funding higher education, either directly or through student grants or loans.

    "let's talk about that" uid 92953

    by VClib on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:37:10 AM PDT

    •  It's the outcomes that bother me. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quill, HugoDog, Nespolo, Catkin, allie4fairness

      The other two don't especially.

      There is so much harm being done to public schools right now in the process of determining outcomes.  

      Their measure of learning uses one standard...testing.  Tested by tests that are formulated in secret and graded that way.

      •  I believe 'outcomes' isn't standardized tests (8+ / 0-)

        but things like graduation rate, default rate on loans, etc.

        I think it is proper for students to know, before they commit to a $100,000 education, that only half of students who attend College A graduate with a four year degree.

        Unlike K-12, where students and schools are largely matched up by chance/fiat/external forces, students choose universities and universities choose students. Universities have a lot more control over their outcomes - in supporting students, in choosing students who will succeed, in pricing or financing educations in a sustainable way.

        The emphasis on elements like graduation rates in rankings performed by magazines has definitely caused selective colleges to add more support services for their students and to consider if it's appropriate to have a high attrition rate if your incoming class is among the best and brightest kids in the nation. We clearly need that force among the least selective schools, the for-profit trade schools.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:23:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Targeting schools with low graduation rates (5+ / 0-)

          The goal, IMO, is to shine a very bright light on schools with low graduation rates.  

          Students and their families deserve to know the schools that graduate their students versus the schools that don't, particularly "online education" factories that practice "pump and dump" -- pump the system for millions in federally-guaranteed student loan money, then dump students out in waves with no degree and nothing of value to show for the thousands of dollars in debt they have incurred.

          Please help to fight hunger in the U.S. by making a donation to Feeding America.

          by MJB on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:32:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Even "graduation" isn't really... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elmo, AlexDrew, allie4fairness

            ...a good final arbiter.

            A school could teach nonsense and have no regard in industry, but still "graduate" lots of students. In fact, the best way to graduate more students is to lower standards.

            A good metric is combination of graduation rate and income/career paths after graduation. If you graduate from a program but have income indistinguishable or lower than a non-college-attending control group, you've wasted your money and time. Maybe schools could be let off the hook by forcing students in some majors to sign a paper saying "I acknowledge that getting a degree in sociology is statistically unlikely to increase my earnings".

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:38:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's necessary though not sufficient (0+ / 0-)

              In other words, colleges and universities must graduate students at a sufficiently high rate, or they should not be eligible for federal grants and federally-guaranteed student loans.

              The schools should also be accredited/monitored to ensure that they are not just handing out valueless degrees by the truckload.

              Please help to fight hunger in the U.S. by making a donation to Feeding America.

              by MJB on Tue May 27, 2014 at 02:56:34 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  For-profit colleges (7+ / 0-)

          are one of the big concerns here. A lot of them take lots of money from students who do not have very good outcomes in the end compared with those who attended public or nonprofit private universities. It's good for prospective students to be aware of that.

          •  And their statistics are often truly appalling (2+ / 0-)

            I am surprised that the mainstream universities, the ones that have presidents, feel threatened by this.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Tue May 27, 2014 at 10:23:41 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Um, not only (0+ / 0-)

              "mainstream universities" have presidents.

              The institutions likely to be worried about a ratings system are the crap ones, just like the blender manufacturers who worry about being rated.

          •  I was wondering if (1+ / 0-)

            this had to do with for-profit colleges. The diarist is not at all clear why he is in high dudgeon. A much larger percentage of student loan defaults come from these schools than the percentage of students they enroll. They are getting rich off tax dollars while saddling unqualified students with big debts. I agree there should be higher standards and rankings to discern whether they should be eligible for these loans.

            Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

            by anastasia p on Tue May 27, 2014 at 02:11:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  and stats like achieving employment (0+ / 0-)

          are significant, too.

        •  If this is what it is (0+ / 0-)

          (and the diarist didn't share, so I was completely lost about why he was so indignant), this makes good sense, especially if it's about student loan repayment and default. I would especially like to see for-profit colleges held responsible, and forced to make better choices in recruitment and retention in order for their students to be eligible for government-funded loans. It's really long past time that these loans be pro-rated – that students they recruit who do not enroll or who don't complete even a semester don't owe the full amount of the loan i.e. the school doesn't get the money until the student meets certain benchmarks. Their pitiful cries that they are providing "opportunity" to students who might not qualify elsewhere is empty to me unless we ask whether those students even have the remotest chance of succeeding in college or if these schools are just taking the money and running .

          Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

          by anastasia p on Tue May 27, 2014 at 02:09:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The default rate may be one of the most (0+ / 0-)

            powerful and pure metrics.

            If your students don't graduate but go on to cover all their student debt, that's probably a success.

            If 100% of your students graduate but 70% of them don't pay back their loans, that's a failure, a serious failure of some sort and it probably doesn't matter if it's in education, in job placement, in tuition level, or in ethics.

            Institutions can cover their own students' debt and charge a very low rate to create better outcomes, or they can lower tuition, or increase grant money.

            Many ways to game this number, and most of them are going to be beneficial to students.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Tue May 27, 2014 at 02:28:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  floridagal - I think elfling has it right (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elmo, jbsoul

        Outcomes will measure things like graduation rates, job placement, loan default rates and earnings, all useful information.

        "let's talk about that" uid 92953

        by VClib on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:44:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree to some extent.... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, elmo, allie4fairness

        You can generate numbers on:

        * year-to-year retention
        * graduation rate (within X years)
        * average years-to-degree
        * students who left without degree but in good standing
        * students who left without degree AND on academic probation/suspension

        None of that is dependent upon student testing (at least, not beyond normal course testing), and those points can be very useful data for students/parents.

        The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

        by wesmorgan1 on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:54:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I actually agree ... College education is not (7+ / 0-)

      public education in the way that K-12 is, and that difference is significant: 1) students have important choices to make (ex. majors, liberal arts vs. research institutions, etc.), 2) learning outcomes are specifically related to future careers and earnings, and 3) cost/benefit ratios are an important metric.

      The sad fact is that college administrators are loathe to do this because they have little valid assessment data on any of those things. Being asked to provide that data exposes the lie underneath what are supposed to be communities of "researchers."

      A particularly cogent example of this is Derek Bok's point that university faculty all seem to agree that "critical thinking" is what a college education is meant to provide. And yet, as he points out, there is  almost nothing in terms of data that assesses degree programs on critical thinking. None. Nada. Zilch.

      •  I'm especially concerned (3+ / 0-)

        about the "careers and earnings" part.  I have two undergraduate degrees, one in philosophy and the other in music.  In my first year after graduation, I lived at home and earned only a few bucks over minimum wage.  Did my college fail me?  Not hardly: I went on to grad school and now earn a comfortable living.  But how would these proposed metrics rate my undergraduate institution?

        "We *can* go back to the Dark Ages! The crust of learning and good manners and tolerance is so thin!" -- Sinclair Lewis

        by Nespolo on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:26:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Badly, as they should have been (0+ / 0-)

          Only your graduate degree (in what?) saved you.

          If you didn't have the money or resources to go to grad school...?

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:41:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You are absolutely wrong. (5+ / 0-)

            Results cannot be measured by what graduates do the year or two after school. Sometimes it is a choice. I have a number of friends who took a year or two off before starting grad school, some by choice, some by necessity.

            I didn't have the resources to go to grad school, until I got a massive student loan which I am still paying off. It was worth it.

          •  Well here's the thing. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BMScott, allie4fairness

            Before I applied to grad school, I moved to NYC and started temping.  Two of the places where I worked for a few months would have gladly hired me, but I told them I had other plans for my future.  One was an administrative assistant position and the other was in the systems department of a securities firm.  Neither had anything to do with my majors, but I nonetheless believe that I wouldn't have gotten the offers without the skills that my undergraduate degrees gave me.

            "We *can* go back to the Dark Ages! The crust of learning and good manners and tolerance is so thin!" -- Sinclair Lewis

            by Nespolo on Tue May 27, 2014 at 11:40:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  If a student is going to take on (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elmo, chrississippi, VClib, Sparhawk

          tens of thousands of dollars in debt, it's fine if they choose to go into a major that has lower potential for a job afterwards (as did I). But why shouldn't they be informed about the likely outcomes?

        •  I believe the metrics would be longer term (0+ / 0-)

          and, of course, wages are averaged.

          It's when you see numbers like half of the attendees defaulting on their student loans that people should be worried.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Tue May 27, 2014 at 01:38:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Perfectly Proper for Voc Ed Schools (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      houyhnhnm, greenbell, allie4fairness

      The department that educated Einstein would be out of business in 2 quarters.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:57:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There are too many crap colleges... (6+ / 0-)

      and too many crap students. I know this whole idea has both administrative types and some faculty types in one big kerfluffle. I've had lots of debates with my colleagues about this.

      Personally, I don't think this is all bad. If we don't like what this administration is proposing, then I wish our institutional administrators would get together and begin to publish some metrics that show some true distinctions between our various institutions that our customers can evaluate and understand. All universities seem to be able to do is to complain about how unfair the latest US News and World Report rating is to their institution because they didn't take into account blah, blah, blah... Every school seems to have some reason why this metric or that metric wouldn't measure them fairly because they are special in some way. If the Chronicle posts some big comparison chart on all of us, we all go crazy because the particular data set they choose to highlight is always from a time when we were having some "growing pains".  That kinda goes for all institutions - if a metric doesn't allow us to come out on top of our perceived peer group, then we won't accept it as valid.

      I don't know what the exact answer is, but I do know with the kind of money that is now involved in higher education, we aren't going to get away with playing this game much longer.

    •  A real problem (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      floridagal, allie4fairness

      There's a difference between a proprietary institution that admits unqualified students and just takes their money, and a public (or non-profit) institution that deliberately takes chances on students.

      In addition, across the country, many community colleges have no choice in admissions--they have to admit (up to capacity) any student with a high-school (or equivalent) diploma or of age 21, except in some programs with standards imposed by other state or national laws or by professional associations.

      A program that has to take any student and makes progress with most students, but loses students to family, medical or money programs, and doesn't graduate 50%, deserves praise, not blame.

      •  Transfer students (in and out) (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BMScott, allie4fairness

        Also pose a significant problem. Even with articulation agreements, students, at least in technical majors, can expect to lose a semester or a year on top of any adjustment problems.

      •  If you are a prospective student, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling, VClib, Sparhawk

        why shouldn't you have access to information about who is indeed making progress with most students, and who is having less success? Wouldn't you want to know that when choosing among various colleges, community or otherwise?

        •  But the 4-year or 6-year completion rate (4+ / 0-)

          Makes no sense unless you pair it with student preparation at the outset--and any "guarantees" the college is making. It certainly doesn't make sense to take away the funding of colleges that graduate slightly fewer than 50% in four years (as New Jersey is proposing to do), if those colleges are required to accept all students. It only encourages those colleges to cheapen the education that students are receiving.

          In fact, I know of one school that is telling its faculty to go easier on grading, and discouraging students from changing majors or pursuing a minor or double major, precisely to get the 4-year pass rate up. So the metrics improve even as the quality of education goes down.

          •  I am not familiar (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elfling, Sparhawk, allie4fairness

            with the NJ plan, and I agree that taking away funding on that basis does not make any sense.

            Here in CA though, colleges including the community college system have been way overcrowded, leading to students' being unable to get classes on time and thus wasting extra semesters or years while they wait to be able to get into classes they need. The problem is much more about overcrowding than about failure rates. I don't see why they shouldn't be able to find out before they enroll if college A takes 7 years to get through on average, while college B only takes 4.5.

            If you're comparing a community college to Princeton, you would of course expect to see a significantly different graduation rate. But most students are probably comparing somewhat similar schools, so if one stands out that could be something to take note of. Why shouldn't students be allowed to know this? College is a huge commitment in time, effort and money. They should have information to make the best choice for them.

            •  I agree (3+ / 0-)

              That it's useful to be able to compare success rates when you are considering schools. Also note that I am not arguing in favor of proprietary, for-profit schools, many if not most of which are just scams.

              But there are some subtleties in comparing, say, state 4-year schools. First, of course, you don't expect completion rates to be as high if the quality of entering students is lower.

              But schools may also vary, depending on both location and focus, in terms of the proportion of technical majors and/or the proportion of effectively part-time students (limited by various factors to taking 12-13 credits per term). In each of these cases, students will tend to take longer to finish their degree, on average, especially when the level of entering student is lower.

              Finally, it should be noted that part of the delay in completing programs comes down to poor advising and mentoring by faculty. While this may differ institution-by-institution, it is likely to differ at least as much program-by-program within an institution. [As a side note: this formulation begs for an ANOVA study.]

              So, in response to your comment about community colleges in California, the information is useful, but would be more useful with more information. If you could give completion rates or times for groups of majors, that would probably provide a great deal better information.

      •  Community colleges I think have some different (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, allie4fairness

        issues, most notably that many people enroll and get huge benefit out of the system without intending to finish a full two year associate degree. There needs to be recognition of this bifurcated mission: an accounting for those who intend a two year degree and/or transfer is important and valid; access for those who do not so intend is important as well.

        On the plus side, no one is coming out of a community college five figures in debt either.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Tue May 27, 2014 at 01:42:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is the wrong solution from the POTUS (6+ / 0-)

    as much as university administration are likewise in the wrong. This whole thing is a clean-up on aisle nine.

    Professors are not amused.

    Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

    by mahakali overdrive on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:47:25 AM PDT

    •  How can Harvard and MIT be compared when (6+ / 0-)

      they serve different types of students?  Does selective admission make a school bad?

      How can either of these schools be compared to a community college with open admission?  Some community college students want a certificate that will help them get a better job.  Other students are taking a few courses before transferring to large universities.  

      Community colleges may offer literacy programs.  It is much easier for an adult to say they are attending their college course than to say they are just now learning to read.  These courses do not carry college credit, but they can prepare bright, underprivileged students for actual college courses.  Those who improve reading or math skills but do not go on to pursue college degrees are more employable.  These skills are also useful in the personal lives of the students.  

      Terms of student loans and financial aid need to be clearly spelled out in advance.  Advertisements about job prospects for graduates must be realistic.  Higher education should not be run like a bunch of feudal corporations, but comparing schools is comparing apples and oranges and watermelons.

      •  they should stop calling (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        codairem, allie4fairness

        student loans financial aid.   Buying something on credit is not the same thing as a grant.

        When a college tells you that you are getting $20K in financial aid, that sounds great. But it's not so great when $18K of that is a loan, with interest.

        My Canadian nephew can go to college, all costs included, for the same price that per year at one of the best schools in the world (University of Toronto, or University of British Columbia, for example), for the same price as an American kid pays for the dorm here. Something is wrong with this.

        "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society, including the chance to insure" - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Compania General De Tabacos De Filipinas v. Collector of Internal Revenue, 275 U.S. 87, 100, dissenting; opinion

        by HugoDog on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:43:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  allie - community colleges will score very high (3+ / 0-)

        on access and affordability.

        "let's talk about that" uid 92953

        by VClib on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:46:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Retention" is the problem. Many student reach (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VClib

          their goal without getting a degree.  Pushing them to graduate wastes their time and money.  

          The real issue at a community college should be academic standards and articulation agreements that allow success for students transferring to large universities, and adequate career preparation for other students.

      •  Community college might turn out to be (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        allie4fairness

        a better investment than an Ivy, that's how the two can be compared.

        •  People who go to community colleges are not likely (0+ / 0-)

          to meet people who are going to give them plummy positions on boards of directors or in think tanks.  

          The actual education is certainly a much better bargain at any community college that maintains academic standards.

  •  What Is the Desirable Outcome of an Education? (5+ / 0-)

    Education is about relationships -- specifically, the pedagogical relationship between educators and students, and the relationships between students at an institution.

    What we perceive as "learning" seems really complex to me and, in some ways, is likely to completely elude the ability of blender tests to assess.

    Memorization is easy to test. Application of problem-solving skills is a bit harder to test, but still doable. But how to you measure the ability of students to bring to bear knowledge and skills on real-world problems in complicated social environments like the workplace?

    Few of us sit around taking standardized tests in the workplace every day.

    Most of us perform an industrial function of one sort of another that is highly dependent on contextual, especially social and institutional, factors. A university education is largely about gaining the shared vocabulary, customs, practices and rules of operating in these sort of institutional environments with peers who have had the same educational experiences.

    A university education does not credential students with something like, "John Doe has memorized XYZ things and mastered the skill of ABC." (Well, maybe for-profit universities like the University of Phoenix do.)

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:47:58 AM PDT

    •  Regarding your last paragraph (5+ / 0-)

      Universities are unfortunately becoming ever more "results" oriented, meaning that the course syllabus is not merely an outline of the professor's expectations and guide to lecture topics and readings, but an actual contract in which course aims and outcomes have to be carefully defined.

      It has gotten ridiculous in the last 10 years. And I've taught at both private and public institutions.

      •  Seems Very Strange Indeed (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SneakySnu, Nespolo, HugoDog, codairem

        For example, I took a very interesting class on power and sexuality when I was an undergrad. We read Nietzsche, Kant, de Sade, Lacan and Foucault as part of this coursework. I can't tell you what the measurable outcome of this class would have been at the end of the semester.

        This is because the value is being realized now -- during my professional life -- rather than at the close of 12 weeks of class instruction, reading and discussion. I find myself returning again and again to Kant's idea of the categorical imperative when making operational decisions on the job. Our readings of Foucault have been key for me to understand and survive the institution of the workplace in modern life.

        The class topic itself was far less interesting -- merely a way to gain an entry point into a kind of thinking about the way humans interact that has been of inestimable value to me ... over time. It's made me a better worker and a better person.

        And this is a rather simplistic example of the value that the university experience can improve someone. At even larger value was gaining access to the social context of "educated people," which is really necessary to be productive in my industry.

        "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

        by bink on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:14:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Definitely tough for philosophy, cultural studies (3+ / 0-)

          and a host of other Humanities disciplines. I'm in art history, so you can just imagine the kind mental gymnastics required to write about the potential productivity of the course of study. We have come up with the concept of "visual literacy" as a result.

          •  I Work with Computers (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            allie4fairness

            So this kind of class is probably not even ideally part of a curriculum for students like me ...

            "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

            by bink on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:25:17 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  It all works out in the end (0+ / 0-)

            Ten years from now, you'll be making some salary or other. That number should encompass most of the details you are describing.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:44:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  There's the measurable outcome (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sparhawk

          " the value is being realized now -- during my professional life"  And that's the sort of outcome they plan to look at. Did the combined impact of your education put you in a good place for a successful career.

          “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

          by Catte Nappe on Tue May 27, 2014 at 10:55:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  It has indeed. It’s one of the reasons that (0+ / 0-)

        I retired after 36 years, at age 62, instead of continuing to teach for another three or four years.

  •  Grade colleges on... (6+ / 0-)

    Grade colleges on the ratio of the college president's pay to the adjunct instructors' pay.  The wider the spread, the better, evidently.  They all say they want excellence, and they all continuously widen the pay spread, so....

    •  Why would students care about that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib

      They care about the ratio of money/time they are putting in to their pay when they get out.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:46:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Use of adjuncts is a pretty decent proxy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        allie4fairness

        for where teaching lies as a priority for the particular institution.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Tue May 27, 2014 at 01:46:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  A more subtle teaching of values (0+ / 0-)

        and interpersonal relations comes from the treatment of faculty.  Schools that exploit and abuse adjuncts teach students that some people deserve to be exploited.  I am in a STEM field, but ethics should matter for us as much or more than in the humanities.  

        Academic administrators who exploit adjuncts probably have no compunctions about profiting from exploitive forms of financial aid that leave students deep in debt.  Students who are happy to exploit adjunct faculty for their personal gain really have no right to complain when they are exploited in turn.

  •  I don't think I understand what the gist of this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elmo

    post was? Am I being told the status quo is what we want? That Universities should continue to produce graduates deep in debt with no job opportunities. That is what University Presidents are doing.
    They also build Departments that are run by the donor. Like the Koch Brothers can pick the faculty and course curriculum.
    It is about time a rating system was done to see which schools in anyone's budget are the best bang for the buck.
    If more College Presidents cared, there would be less focus on sports and money and more on results and future.

    "If you tell the truth, you won't have to remember anything", Mark Twain

    by Cruzankenny on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:52:46 AM PDT

  •  A simple grade for a college is just dumb. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SneakySnu, quill, allie4fairness

    It is as ridiculous assuming a standardized test is the be all and end all.

    The quality of an education can't be reduced to a simple metric. It's not a simple decision, it's one of the most important decisions of a person's life.

    There are so many reasons why somebody would choose one college over another. Money. Reputation overall. Size. Strength of a particular department or set of departments.  An individual instructor. Employment of recent graduates. Strength of the alumnae network. Location. Facilities. It's where your friends and/or family go. What the dorms are like. etc, etc., etc.

    In most "traditional" colleges, a person is probably going to learn more from her/his fellow students as s/he is going to learn in the classroom - a key reason why diversity (ethnic, financial, geographic, talents, cultural, etc. etc.) is so damned important.

    "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society, including the chance to insure" - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Compania General De Tabacos De Filipinas v. Collector of Internal Revenue, 275 U.S. 87, 100, dissenting; opinion

    by HugoDog on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:56:40 AM PDT

    •  The proposal is not to force any student (3+ / 0-)

      to choose a college based on any single metric. The proposal is to provide a range of data (unavailable currently) to assist a student in making a better educated choice.

      It's consumer information that every consumer of educational services should have available. An educated consumer is able to make better choices for themselves.

      I'm really surprised that there is opposition here to this.

      •  My problem is that it doesn't (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BMScott, allie4fairness

        sound like they are using enough information to make their rankings, and that there are going to be lots of square pegs. That is, unless there are different ranking systems for each and every discipline and sub-discipline.

        Besides, according to the Chronicle "Under the plan, students attending higher-rated institutions could obtain larger Pell Grants and more-affordable loans. "  Does that mean there will be smaller Pell grants and less-affordable loans at the lower rated schools? I wonder if this would increase the financial problems for attending a community college  for some other Wendy Davis, thus preventing them from attending Harvard Law afterword?

        "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society, including the chance to insure" - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Compania General De Tabacos De Filipinas v. Collector of Internal Revenue, 275 U.S. 87, 100, dissenting; opinion

        by HugoDog on Tue May 27, 2014 at 12:06:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The purpose and intent is to block (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elmo

          the use of Pell Grants and federal student loans to for-profit universities that have a high rate of default and are objectively in business solely to funnel that student aid funding stream into their stockholder's pockets.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Tue May 27, 2014 at 01:48:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If that be the purpose... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HugoDog, allie4fairness

            then I tend to agree.  However let's look at the tendency in K-12 to force higher numbers of charter schools on districts in return for funding.....but then having NO regulation or oversight of their finances.  

            If true they want to block for-profit colleges from profiting from the federal money, why do they have an opposite kind of policy in K-12?  

            Not sure I worded this right, but seems like there are 2 different philosophies there.

          •  that would be a good thing. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            allie4fairness

            But why not just do that explicitly?

            "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society, including the chance to insure" - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Compania General De Tabacos De Filipinas v. Collector of Internal Revenue, 275 U.S. 87, 100, dissenting; opinion

            by HugoDog on Tue May 27, 2014 at 03:30:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Buying for Profit College Schooling IS Like Buying (8+ / 0-)

    a blender. Whether they're selling bits or bytes for profit, the object is to acquire the raw materials at the cheapest possible cost, add the least value that will draw a market, and sell them for the highest profit the market will bear.

    Grading for-profit schooling, or blender sales, parts is parts.

    Now if you want to talk about education, something neither political party has any leadership interest in, now you're opening up an entirely different conversation.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:56:42 AM PDT

    •  Except, of course, not every blender is the same (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      allie4fairness

      Some break in a week. Some never actually blend properly. When you are in the market for a blender, wouldn't you like to have data on the different models in order to compare and make a wise choice?

      Similarly, not all colleges are the same. Some have high tuition, but low graduation rates, and even lower employment rates. Wouldn't you like to have that data to compare in order to make a wise choice?

      I would.

    •  For once, I totally agree with you, Gooserock (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      allie4fairness

      If this is about rating schools for the sake of government loans, which are keeping these atrocious schools afloat and making  their owners rich, then HELL yes, they should be rated.

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

      by anastasia p on Tue May 27, 2014 at 02:13:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I view higher education as a very different case (7+ / 0-)

    than K-12.  The federal government plays a substantially greater role in higher ed funding in the form of federal student aid, and the ownership and governance of colleges and universities is a lot more varied between public, private non-profit and private for-profit institutions.

    What solutions do the college presidents have to soaring tuition and student debt?  If you are going to expect college students to take on a large debt burden-- which CANNOT be discharged in bankruptcy-- they had better get something for the time and money they are giving over to the effort to be educated.

    IMHO, the Johnny come lately for profit institutions would have the most to lose under the Ed department's rating system since they have the worst track record on graduation and career placement.  What surprises me is that the presidents of well-established colleges like Williams, Sarah Lawrence and the University of Maryland would be so opposed to such a rating system when their institution would probably fare rather well.  I think the point that the Obama administration makes is correct, that the current situation in higher ed is not sustainable and students need guideposts to making decisions that are right for them.

    For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. --John Maynard Keynes

    by Kurt from CMH on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:58:56 AM PDT

  •  Rating system totally unnecessary. (4+ / 0-)

    US News & World Report already does a parent/student-friendly ranking with lots of different criteria.

    The U.S. is blessed with the most complex and extensive post-high school education system in the world, from community colleges to the Ivy League. The public state universities on the whole offer an excellent education to their students, and at an affordable cost.

    I would be in favor of Congress enacting legislation to limit tuition fees for students, particularly as a percentage of their parents' or their own income.  I hardly see how a system of ranking is going to have an effect on costs or choices.

    •  Gaming the system (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      guyeda, elmo
      For years that task has been dominated by private companies like Barron’s and U.S. News & World Report.
      an alternative to the private rankings, where colleges often battle for spots by erecting lavish new athletic centers and libraries and by becoming more selective in whom they admit.
      The NY Times links to an article about that which I cannot access. But it is a frequently covered topic. Decent overview, and additional links in this Atlantic article
      http://www.theatlantic.com/...

      That's not to say the Admin's proposed approach is going to be any better overall, but the US News is obviously not the answer.

      “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

      by Catte Nappe on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:30:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sneaky - this is the start of a plan to not (0+ / 0-)

      have the federal government fund students to attend for profit trade schools. I think that's the first goal.

      "let's talk about that" uid 92953

      by VClib on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:49:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Does U.S. News and World Report (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      allie4fairness

      rate for-profit schools? Those are the problem for the government, which essentially funds them. I don't see how the government can impose limits on what Harvard or SMU or the University of Chicago charges.

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

      by anastasia p on Tue May 27, 2014 at 02:15:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Stupid criteria (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HugoDog, Sparhawk, allie4fairness

    My favorite stupid criterion of quality is 'per percent who finish in four (or five, take your choice) years'.  Under this standard, a school in which every student who entered would get a degree in four years would be really good.

    ummh, no, colleges are supposed to be filtering out the errors made by their admissions departments, which are staffed by human beings who are not infallible and are sometimes fed supporting information that is wildly enthusiastic when not purely fictional.

    If your child is in a school in which everyone finishes, that means that prospective employers may well have hired graduates who turned out to be total idiots, as a result of which your child's school is on their list "do not interview prospective candidates from this institution".  I could but will not name concrete examples.

    Also, the notion that academic quality is consistent above the departmental level is addlepated. One of my former institutions had departments that were clearly top-ranked in field A, and after internal review program-terminated the department in field B as being off the bottom of the charts.

    Restore the Fourth! Save America!

    by phillies on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:09:32 AM PDT

    •  On the counter side (4+ / 0-)

      There are universities who actively harm students in a way that can be seen in their four year completion rate.

      You have schools that don't offer the classes students need to finish their major, either in sufficient quantity or at all. You have schools that provide terrible support to their students versus ones that really go out of their way to mentor all the kids and make sure they don't fall through the cracks while away from home and all their supports for the first time.

      Some of the elite schools used to pride themselves on selecting the creme de la creme of high school seniors, and then flunking out a third or more of the class. Some of those kids ended up okay, graduating from other schools with their psyches and resumes intact, but many did not. It's worth asking if that's a good use of human potential. If it's fair to extract tens of thousands of dollars from a student who came in good faith and tried and leave them on a human scrap heap to try to salvage a life somewhere else. Today, I suspect largely in response to USN&WR rankings, disadvantaged students are more likely to graduate from selective schools than from "easier," less selective schools - the elites are making an effort to get their kids through, and they have perhaps more funding and better staff ratios for doing so.

      I'm not in favor of a "school" where once you're in, you warm a seat for four years and get a diploma, that's not what I'm suggesting at all. But universities are not helpless in this matter... they have the ability to screen their students, and once those kids are in, they have the responsibility to make it possible for those kids to succeed. We know that mentoring and relationships matter. We know that some universities really care about teaching quality and some do not.

      There will always be slackers and there will always be fraud and there will always be mishap. But at a gross level, if half of your students aren't finishing their degree (leaving aside people who attend classes without that intent), you as a university are doing it wrong.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:39:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Crack-down on for profit programs (4+ / 0-)

    It seems this is sort of in tandem with that effort, which I endorse 110%. It does open the question, though, why the University of Phoenix or DeVry should be scrutinized over their use of government aid, student loans, and employment outcomes; but other private and public institutions should be exempt.

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:43:01 AM PDT

    •  Interesting stock trend for U of Pheonix parent (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, allie4fairness

      Five year trend clearly sloping downward.

      http://finance.yahoo.com/...

      "let's talk about that" uid 92953

      by VClib on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:54:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, elmo, atana, codairem

        Mr. Nappe taught there for a brief time. It was abundantly clear where their priorities were, and education was so far down the list it wasn't even on the page.

        “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

        by Catte Nappe on Tue May 27, 2014 at 10:24:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Mr. Elmo was chatting up (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Catte Nappe, codairem, allie4fairness

          a car salesman the other day who relayed a tale of woe. He dropped out of college only a few credits short of his degree for financial reasons a few years ago; when he looked into how much it would cost to get enough credits to graduate at U of Phoenix, it was some mindboggling figure north of $50,000! What a scam.

          I told my husband to go back and tell this young man about community colleges in our city.

    •  Why should they be scrutinized? (0+ / 0-)

      Because a vastly greater proportion of their income comes from the federal government than private and public state institutions. I think there should be limits on the percentage of income a school can get from the federal government. Even if it were set at 50%, that would close virtually every one of these schools. It would't close Sarah Lawrence or Ohio State University.

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

      by anastasia p on Tue May 27, 2014 at 02:17:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Are you including student loans? (0+ / 0-)

        Because even in the not for profit education sector that is a bunch of money

        “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

        by Catte Nappe on Tue May 27, 2014 at 03:01:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  samo samo (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allie4fairness

    Just like the "reform" of k-12 education

    Great fantasy of what the intended result will be.

    Disastrous unintended consequences (or hidden agenda, depending on whether or not you subscribe to Hanlon's Razor)

    Why? Because we are living in a society in which neither public nor personal integrity has a value and every "reform" is gamed by those for whom material success is the only good.  How do you fix that?

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:54:48 AM PDT

  •  a good idea, then perhaps the university (0+ / 0-)

    higher education colleges, schools, & departments will stop yakking about Common Core and assessment outcomes and endorsing the zombie version of "no child left behind" with its collusion with the testing monopoly although given the US News & World Report and Princeton Review's cottage industry in their more subjective ratings it would be good to have something more quantitative, as well as embarrassing SecEd Duncan

    Given the sad state of Core Curricula nationwide, it's time to rate them like blenders

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Tue May 27, 2014 at 10:00:12 AM PDT

  •  I'm not so much on board with "ratings"... (6+ / 0-)

    ...as I am with "providing data."

    One of the most frustrating aspects of the college/university selection process (I have 3 kids attending college) is the lack of ANY comparative data.

    Aside from financial cost/aid data, I would want to see something like:

    For the [342] students entering [Old State U] in [2008] and pursuing [Chemistry BS]:

    210 (61%) had received their degree by the end of the 2013-14 school year;

    86 (25%) left [Old State U] in good academic standing;

    25 (7%) left [Old State U] while on academic probation/suspension;

    10 (3%) are still enrolled in pursuit of their [Chemistry BS] degree; and

    11 (3%) changed to a different degree program.

    Of the 210 graduates, the average graduate enrolled in 11 academic terms (fall/winter/summer) to complete their degree work.

    For those professions requiring third-party licensure (e.g. nursing, pharmacy, law, etc.), there would be additional information like:
    Of the 97 students graduating with [Nursing BS] in [2013], 88 (91%) passed the NCLEX-RN on their first attempt.
    None of this requires any additional testing at all, but would be a very big help to students/parents comparing different schools and/or programs.

    Of course, almost every college/university in the US already has this information (or something VERY close to it)...

    The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

    by wesmorgan1 on Tue May 27, 2014 at 10:15:46 AM PDT

  •  I think places like University of Phoenix (5+ / 0-)

    should get failing grades. They are basically scams. I doubt Harvard and MIT have to worry -- their graduates get the best jobs in the country.

    American Presidents: 43 men, 0 women. Ready for Hillary

    by atana on Tue May 27, 2014 at 10:24:30 AM PDT

  •  When the question was rating (0+ / 0-)

    public schools, many in Schools of Education were perfectly ready to help. When it comes to rating colleges, surprisingly, not so much.

  •  If grading, etc, were outsourced to India (0+ / 0-)

    costs would probably be reduced.

    Likewise adopting MOOCs on a large scale would help out (a strategy, btw, that has good synergy with the first scheme)

    This rating system seems like a good prod for colleges to start adopting those strategies, Big Time.

    If nothing else, it'd leave more $$s to recruit a top football coach.

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