10 Updates

The U.S. Government Wants To Rank Our Colleges. Why?

Dec 22 2013, 7:36am CST | by

The U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has come up with a plan to produce official government rankings of our universities. The plan was announced this past August , and over the past month,...

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31 weeks ago

The U.S. Government Wants To Rank Our Colleges. Why?

Dec 22 2013, 7:36am CST | by

The U.S. Secretary of EducationArne Duncan, has come up with a plan to produce official government rankings of our universities.

The plan was announced this past August , and over the past month, the Obama administration has been holding public forums  around the country to get input about its plan.  But it seems like they’ve already made up their minds.

I hope not.  There are many reasons why this is a truly bad idea.

First of all, we have multiple rankings systems already, including the highly regarded U.S. News  college rankings , which millions of students, faculty, and administrators use every year.  Even though everyone loves to complain about it, U.S. News is pretty darned good: they rank colleges in many categories, by region, by specialty, and more. They also rank graduate programs and professional schools such as law and medicine.

If you don’t like U.S. News, there are several other rankings, including the more recently established World Rankings from Shanghai  and The Times Higher Education rankings . These are excellent rankings, well-documented using multiple criteria, and not nearly so US-centric. All these websites are chock-full of useful data about hundreds of universities.

I know, I know: “ratings aren’t rankings” as Ben Miller wrote recently  at the Inside Higher Ed site. But I’m not at all confident that the proposed ratings won’t turn into a ranking system, especially with the weight of the federal government behind them.

So we don’t need a federal ranking of universities. That’s the first problem.

Second, this push to create official ratings will inevitably lead to a new bureaucracy within the Education Department, which will then create a constituency that will fight to keep itself in existence. How many staff will Secretary Duncan hire to create these rankings? Dozens? Hundreds?  And how many university employees around the country will then have to be hired to answer whatever questions the government asks?  This seems like it could quickly become a very expensive proposition, running in the tens of millions of dollars annually, or perhaps even more. I haven’t seen any estimate of how much this new system would cost, but I’m betting on a lot. What will we cut from the federal budget to create this new system?

Third, a ranking system will likely spawn a host of unintended consequences, in the form of new requirements that universities will have to satisfy. Why? Well, primarily because federal financial aid to universities will be tied to their ratings . Thus it’s pretty clear that universities will do whatever they can  to keep the feds happy. And I’ve no doubt that with a full-time bureaucracy in place, the federal raters will keep moving the goalpost – coming up with new measures that in turn will spur new costs throughout academia. I’m highly skeptical that any of these government metrics will lead to better education.

We’ve already seen what government scorecards do in our public education system. Thanks to the No Child Left Behind program, we now have incessant testing of students, beginning in elementary school, and thousands of hours devoted to teaching students how to take tests rather than learn new material. Schools have not improved as a result. Do we want this trend to creep into colleges too?

I’m not the only one who thinks this a bad idea. Janet Napolitano , the president the University of California system and former Secretary of Homeland Security  under President Obama, told the Washington  Post that she is “deeply skeptical”  of the criteria that a federal ratings bureau would develop.

“It’s not like you’re buying a car or a boat,” said Napolitano.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has already criticized the critics  of the new rankings system, calling the criticism “premature and a little silly.”  Duncan emphasizes the need to address the alarming number of college students who default on their student loans. This is certainly a problem, but a college ranking (or rating) system is not the solution.

Perhaps the biggest problems with student debt is the rapid rise in mediocre, for-profit online colleges. If the feds want to get the loan problem under control, they should stop funneling money to these Yugos of higher education . As the PBS show Frontline pointed out in 2010 , for-profit universities are

 “churning out worthless degrees that leave students with a mountain of debt.”

And they’re not cheap, either - the GAO found  that

tuition in 14 out of 15 cases, regardless of degree, was more expensive at the for-profit college than at the closest public colleges.”

So yes, we do have a problem with student debt. One solution would be to exclude truly bad colleges, which are responsible for a disproportionate share of student debt, from federal aid. But that would mean naming the bad apples, who in turn will claim that the government is somehow being unfair. Perhaps the new ratings are an attempt to be fair, but it just makes no sense to rate everyone in order to identify the worst universities. Having a federal government agency produce college rankings is just a bad idea.

Source: Forbes Business

 
Update
10

7 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakyat was to ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

7 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

7 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by the De ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

7 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Husse ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

7 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ in the southern states last month. ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

7 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 million in compens ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

7 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

7 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving an a ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

7 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Bazaar ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

7 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara Damansara Skyway (Kidex) ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

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