Washington Update

Lawmakers Seek to Block Proposed College Ratings System

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Congressional opposition to the Obama Administration’s plans to develop a college rating system continues to mount. On June 11, two House members, Michael Capuano (D-MA) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), introduced a resolution opposing the system. 

Two days later, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, said he planned to stop the proposed rating system by attaching an amendment to the spending bill that funds the Department of Education. The amendment would prohibit “using any federal funding to develop, refine, publish or implement a college ratings system.” The Administration has said it will produce a draft of the proposal for public comment by this fall, whether it receives congressional funding or not. 

The development of a new rating system stems from the Administration’s belief that prospective students would benefit from consumer information, such as comparison data showing the average amount of debt incurred by students at various colleges. 

In an interview on the social media site Tumblr, Obama criticized existing systems for evaluating colleges and said the administration’s goal for the new system is to alert students to schools that are “pretty notorious for piling a lot of debt on their students but not really delivering a great education.” 

Many educators, however, remain wary of the proposed system for fear that any attempt to rate colleges will become hierarchical, encourage inaccurate judgments about institutions or unfairly limit their access to federal student loan funding. 

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