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Federal College-Rating System to Drop Scoring Plans

The idea of a federal college-rating system announced by President Obama two years ago, has evolved into an information tool that will not actually score colleges on their performance, The Chronicle of Higher Education and  Inside Higher Ed report today.

While not scrapping the system, comments by education officials Wednesday indicate a significant shift in approach—essentially a rating system without ratings.

Instead, the data on colleges, scheduled to be released at the end of the summer, will be accessible to consumers on a website, where they can retrieve certain information that is important to them as they research schools.

In December, the U.S. Department of Education released a framework for the college rating system that included several measures, such as price and completion rates, that would place colleges in three broad categories of high-, middle-, and low-performing. Many from the higher education community voiced concern about the ability of the government to accurately measure the value of their institutions and pushed back on the notion of rating colleges.

While not scrapping the system completely, the latest comments from the department reflect a much less rigorous tool for consumers than was originally proposed as part of the president's affordability and accountability agenda. The rating system was initially billed as a way for prospective college students to better comparison shop to get the best value for their tuition dollars. There was little support for the administration's idea of linking federal aid to colleges based on their performance, a move that would have required Congressional action.

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