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Dept. of Ed Delays College Ratings Proposal; APLU Continues to Push Its Alternative Proposal

Last week the U.S. Department of Education announced a delay in the release of its college ratings proposal, citing ongoing conversations with higher education stakeholders on the scope and design the new federal system will take. The original timeline called for a mid-2014 release, but department officials say sometime this fall is more likely.

“The scope of responses, complexity of the task, and importance of doing this thoughtfully and usefully led us to decide that it is worth taking more time before publishing a proposal for comment,” said Jamienne Studley, deputy under secretary of the U.S. Department of Education in a blog post. “We are continuing conversations with educators, families, leaders and researchers. We are on track to come out with a proposal by this fall and a final version of the new ratings system before the 2015-16 school year.”

While APLU agrees with the administration’s goal of increasing transparency and accountability at higher education institutions, the association is advocating for an alternative it developed to the administration’s ratings plan. APLU supports making essential and accurate information, such as the Student Achievement Measure (SAM), about all higher education institutions widely available to students and their families. In addition, APLU proposes tightening up the Title IV federal student aid eligibility process and measuring institutions, after adjusting for the nature of the student body, against key metrics. These measurements should have real consequences, which would be in keeping with the president’s goals to protect students and better use federal resources.

Back in January the association formally sent its alternative proposal to Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan. A month later APLU presented recommendations on providing greater value to students and the public at a symposium on the ratings plan, formally known as the Postsecondary Institution Rating System (PIRS). APLU will use this new delay in the administration’s development of its ratings plan to further push for its alternative proposal.

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