Colleges Face a ‘Tough Love’ Problem

“Tough love” isn’t the kind of love that most people pine for. The term implies strong medicine—restorative, maybe, but hard to swallow. It proved an apt title for a report, released on Wednesday by the Education Trust, that proposed identifying the colleges that are the worst at access and student success, and threatening them with the loss of all federal money unless they improve.

The report focused on the need for institution-level student-loan data and the ways in which colleges could turn themselves around. But in the long run, the reaction to the report may say much more about the future of effective reform of American higher education, including President Obama’s proposed college-rating system.

As with almost any attempt to measure quality in education, the report’s proposed metrics drew criticism for what they attempt to gauge and how they attempt to gauge it. Forget the report’s standards for measuring the percentage of students eligible for Pell Grants who enroll at a college, its overall graduation rate, and its graduates’ student-loan repayment rate. Carlo Salerno, a higher-education economist and consultant, takes issue with the report’s aim at the 5 percent of institutions that fare worst on those measurements. <Read more.>

Via Lee Gardner, The Chronicle of Higher Education.