Figuring Out the Score

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In his State of the Union Address, President Obama announced the release of the new College Scorecard. First proposed by the President over a year ago, the Scorecard is intended to provide prospective students and families with better information about affordability and value. The online Scorecard is also intended to provide easier access to information and to facilitate comparability.

The Scorecard provides information on five key areas related to affordability and value:
     1) Costs
     2) Graduation Rate
     3) Loan Default Rate
     4) Median Borrowing
     5) Employment

In this address, the President called on Congress to “change the Higher Education Act so that affordability and value are
included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid.”  He went on to say that the White House’s new Scorecard would help students and families “compare schools based on simple criteria -- where you can get 
the most bang for your educational buck.”

This initiative is just one element in the President’s ambitious plan for his second term.  Just after his State of the Union Address, the President released what is described as a “blueprint” entitled “The President’s Plan for a Strong Middle Class and a Strong America.” This plan includes four (4) overarching goals, each with a number of initiatives. The document also includes a promise that accomplishing all of this will not “add a dime to the deficit.”  The goals and initiatives are:

     1) Making America a Magnet for Jobs
             -Bringing good manufacturing jobs back to America
             -Slashing reliance on foreign oil and increasing American energy security through clean energy
             -Rebuilding and upgrading our infrastructure so our businesses have the tools they need to compete
            - Rebuilding our housing sector to grow our economy and put more construction workers back on the job
            - Encouraging fair trade and leveling the playing field by opening new markets for American made products
             -Investing in the best ideas to lead the world in innovation

2) Equipping Americans with the Skills they Need
            -Providing high-quality preschool for every child
            -Building the skills that lead to high-quality, high-wage jobs
            -Holding colleges accountable for cost, value and quality
            -Fixing our broken immigration system so everyone plays by the same rules and we attract the best 
and brightest workers
            -Ensuring our veterans have the care, benefits, education, and job opportunities they have earned
3) Ensuring Hard Work Leads to a Decent Living
            -Rewarding hard work by raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour
            -Building new ladders of opportunity into the middle class
            -Securing equal pay for equal work
            -Making our homes and neighborhoods safer
4) Cutting the Deficit in a Balanced Way
            -Building on progress reducing the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion in a balanced way
-Reducing the deficit by $4 trillion as part of an overall plan for jobs and share growth and tax and 
entitlement reform

It is an ambitious plan, especially in light of the continued acrimony and lack of cooperation in Washington. And while I
applaud the President’s commitment to skills development, I think the Scorecard is both simplistic and flawed. It certainly
makes for good rhetoric and has some value. But it is lacking in a level of depth, detail and accuracy to really help
prospective students and their families make the right choice.

Next week I will tell you my rationale for this assessment.

(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)


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Guest Tuesday, 29 July 2014