The Obama administration has scrapped plans to rate colleges

Obama teaching law schoolAssociated PressThis photo released by Obama for America shows Barack Obama teaching at the University of Chicago Law School.

The US Department of Education has scrapped long-standing plans to critically evaluate colleges, instead pivoting to create a consumer-focused tool with access to reams of higher ed data.

“The department is now promising to produce a customisable, consumer-oriented website that won’t include any evaluations of colleges but will contain what one official described as ‘more data than ever before,'” according to Chronicle of Higher Education reporter Goldie Blumenstyk. “In effect, it will be a ratings system without any ratings.”

President Obama first announced the plan almost two years ago, saying, “What we want to do is rate them on who’s offering the best value so students and taxpayers get a bigger bang for their buck,” Inside Higher Ed notes. That plan seemed to shift away from a strict rating system in December 2014, when the education department announced it was considering sorting colleges into three broad categories — high-performing, low-performing, and schools in the middle.

Notably, this system would have been tied to federal aid, which no longer seems to be the case, as IHE points out.

In December, the education department revealed 11 potential metrics for evaluating colleges, which look at qualities such as affordability, first-generation student enrollment, and graduation rate. These will still form the basis of the consumer data tool that the department hopes to unveil this summer, IHE reports.

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