As Education Department officials fan out across the country to hear feedback on the administration’s proposed college rating system, the associations that represent colleges are starting to stake out firmer stances against some parts of the plan, reports InsideHigherEd
“After offering a relatively restrained response early on, higher education associations are beginning to more clearly articulate their concerns about the administration’s ratings plan, even
though it’s still not clear what such a ratings system will look like. President Obama in August proposed that colleges be rated based on metrics measuring their affordability, accessibility to low-income students, and student outcomes. The administration plans to publish those college ratings by the 2015 academic year and eventually persuade Congress to allocate federal student aid based on how institutions perform.
“The department holds the last of its four public hearings Thursday at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge. But officials have been meeting privately with student advocates, college presidents and other stakeholders.
“The leaders of private nonprofit colleges gathered in here last week, in part, to map out their response to the proposed ratings system and meet with department officials.
“David Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, said the college presidents on his board were in agreement in principle with the administration’s goals but took exception to a federal ratings system. Continue reading “Worries about fed college rating system”
Unsatisfied by the college ratings generated by popular news magazines, the Obama administration expects to have a first draft of its college rating system by this spring, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said. As InsideHigherEd reports:
“After soliciting public input at town hall discussions and hearings at college campuses across the country this fall, the department will convene a “technical symposium” early next year to discuss ratings methodology before releasing a preliminary version for public comment at some point in the spring, Duncan said. The administration’s goal is to implement the ratings system in the 2014-15 academic year and eventually persuade Congress to link federal student aid funding to the ratings system.
“It is an ambitious timeframe,” Duncan conceded on a call with reporters on Wednesday, in which he again emphasized that the administration has not yet decided on the metrics that will make up the federal college rating system that the president proposed in August. “We’ve seen some articles [about] people who are already opposed to the ratings plan, which is a little bit funny to me because it literally doesn’t exist,” he said. Many college and university leaders — and the associations that represent them in Washington — have been skeptical, if not critical, of measuring student outcomes based on metrics such as earnings and graduation rates. Some have also decried the availability and quality of data needed to carry out a ratings system.
“Data is always imperfect and we will use the best data we have,” Duncan said, adding that the administration would produce new iterations of the metrics “as better data becomes available.” Education Department officials also said Wednesday that they planned to host, in collaboration with the White House, a “datapalooza” in the early spring that will bring together innovators and app designers to look at better ways to package and provide access to existing federal data on colleges and students, such as the government’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, known as IPEDS. Continue reading “Fed college rating system due in Spring”
Social Security’s disability program is overwhelmed by so many claims that judges sometimes award benefits they might otherwise deny just to keep up with the flow of cases, according to a lawsuit filed by the judges themselves.
The Social Security Administration says the agency’s administrative law judges should decide 500 to 700 disability cases a year. The agency calls the standard a productivity goal, but the lawsuit claims it is an illegal quota that requires judges to decide an average of more than two cases per workday.
“When the goals are too high, the easy way out is to pay the case,” said Randall Frye, president of the Association of Administrative Law Judges and a judge in Charlotte, N.C. “Paying the case is a decision that might be three pages long. When you deny benefits, it’s usually a 15- or 20-page denial that takes a lot more time and effort.”
The lawsuit raises serious questions about the integrity of the disability hearing process by the very people in charge of running it. It comes as the disability program faces serious financial problems.
The disability program’s trust fund will run out of money in 2016, according to projections by Social Security’s trustees. At that point, the system will collect only enough money in payroll taxes to pay 79 percent of benefits. That would trigger an automatic 21 percent cut in benefits.
Congress could redirect money from Social Security’s much bigger retirement program to shore up the disability program, as it did in 1994. But that would worsen the finances of the retirement program, which is facing its own long-term financial problems.
The lawsuit was filed by the judges’ union and three judges on Thursday in federal court in Chicago. It names the agency and Acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin as defendants. Colvin took over in February after Commissioner Michael Astrue’s six-year term expired.
The union announced the lawsuit at a press conference Friday in Washington. A Social Security spokesman declined to comment. In an interview, Astrue disputed the union’s claims. Continue reading “U.S. disability system in crisis”
What ever were they thinking at the University of California? After a hailstorm of negative responses to its new “modern” look
the prestigious university has dropped the new monogram many said looked like a badly done corporate makeover. As university officials wrote in their press release today about its “visual identity system:”
“A controversy has developed over an element of an integrated visual identity designed for use by the University of California’s systemwide office. This controversy has created a major distraction for the UCOP External Relations Division as it pursues its broader mission: communicating to all Californians the vital contributions UC makes to the quality of their lives and the prosperity of the state. Continue reading “University of California’s troubled new look”