Home > Uncategorized > Betsy DeVos Retains The Worst Element of the Obama Administration: The College Report Card

Betsy DeVos Retains The Worst Element of the Obama Administration: The College Report Card

October 5, 2017

As readers of this blog realize, there was much about the Obama administration’s education policy that I disliked.. and among the most despised policies was the “College Scorecard”, a metric he proposed to determine the “quality” of colleges. Like the metrics he advocated for public schools, the “scorecard” relied on inexpensive and easy-to-collect data, data that was often based on deeply flawed assumptions. With a new administration in place, one that has demonstrated an antipathy for all-things-Obama, it seemed remotely possible that the “College Scorecard” might be scrapped. But as a recent Inside Higher Education article by Andrew Kreighbaum reports, the “College Scorecard” will live on under Betsy DeVos leadership. Described as a “consumer tool (that) allows students and their families to easily find the average annual cost of a given institution, its graduation rate, the typical salary after attending and the percentage of students paying off their debt within three years of leaving” this metric reinforces the notion that the primary purpose of attending college is to get a high paying job. The data points will show favoritism to the following:

  • students who major in computer science, engineering and business over liberal arts majors
  • colleges that serve affluent students over those who must borrow large sums of money
  • colleges who are selective over those who accept students who might find college challenging
  • colleges with low tuitions (i.e public institutions) over those with higher tuition (i.e private institutions)
  • colleges that admit students who see high earnings (i.e. aspiring billionaires, pre-meds, and computer programmers) over those who admit students who want to serve their fellow man (i.e school teachers, social workers, nurses, and caregivers). 

The colleges seem resigned to the fact that colleges are viewed as “products” that student-consumers can examine the same way they look at, say, automobiles. As Mr. Kreighbaum reports:

A spokesman for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities agreed that the passage of legislation for a comprehensive data system was necessary, even as he said APLU was pleased that the department had continued to update the Scorecard data.

“We continue to be very concerned that a lot of key data on the Scorecard is incomplete and misleading (such as graduation rates and earnings) largely because the department has its hands tied due to a congressional ban on student-level data,” said Jeff Lieberson, a spokesman for APLU. “This underscores the need for Congress to pass the College Transparency Act, which would enable the department and its Scorecard to post much more complete and accurate data.”

Unless the student-consumers are different from my daughters, the data won’t matter nearly as much as the “feel” of the campus… but then neither of my daughters aspired to be billionaires or viewed colleges as a means to earning large sums of money.

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