Yes, I am thinking too much about PIRS. Its not really my fault, other people start it in other places.
Really though, the proposal is unnecessary. We already have an implicit ratings system that has been in place for years. It is quite simple:
A. Institution participates in Title IV.
B. Institution is on accreditation warning/probation/other status less than fully accredited and thus At-risk of Losing Title IV participation.
C. Institution no longer eligible to participate in Title IV.
D. Institution has never participated in Title IV.
Clean. Simple. And already exists. Now all we need to do is tie a badge to it for institutions to use on their websites.
The only thing missing, apart from marketing,is some kind of objective criteria to allow USED to sort institutions into the categories themselves. Quite frankly, they could have done that themselves, quietly, without all the fanfare. And angst.
If we really need a rating that is better than A above, then we can have an “Unconditional participant in Title IV” for those institutions who are in the first three years following reaffirmation of accreditation.
I’m still not clear why we need more than this from the feds. This essay about the upcoming changes to the Carnegie Classification System points to how something as innocuous as the original categories became a de facto ranking. I suspect anyone that has worked at an R2 can testify to the discussions to attempt to become an R1. Over time, the classifications have become more complex. I have little doubt that would happen to PIRS and in a dozen years or so we would wind up with something that is hideously complex.
By the way, read this. Apparently the whole ratings/rankings dichotomy is not universal.