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College Leaders Concerned Over Accuracy of New Federal Rating System

Results of a new poll by Inside Higher Ed and Gallup Education show that while half of college presidents think it is appropriate for the government to collect and publish data on career and other outcomes for college graduates, just 13 percent believe the government has a "good chance" of collecting such data accurately.

The Obama administration is in the midst of gathering input for a Postsecondary Institution Rating System to help students assess the value and affordability of colleges. While still in development, many in the higher education community have voiced concern about which measures would be used and how the job status of graduates would be tracked.

The poll, conducted in late January and early February, included responses from nearly 850 chief executives from public, private, and for-profit higher education institutions.

In August another poll by Insider Higher Ed and Gallup revealed that only 2 percent of college leaders believed the new rating plan would be "very effective" at making college more affordable, and only 19 percent said it will have a positive impact on their school.

In the latest poll while the executives expressed skepticism of some aspects of the proposed system, three-quarters of presidents responding said their schools should be reporting the debt levels, job-placement rates, and graduate school enrollment rates of recent graduates. However, fewer than 4 in 10 say they should make the income of their graduates publicly available a decade after they leave the institution.

The survey also asked about the leaders' perspectives on the financial health of their colleges—something that can have a big impact on services to students and tuition rates. Only 5 percent of survey respondents said they strongly agreed that the economic downturn that started in 2008 was effectively over at their institution.

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