Burning Bridges

I guess I am tired and feeling cranky. Thursday’s InsideHigherEd story from Michael Stratford, U.S. Keeps Scrutiny of Risky Colleges Secret convinces me that USED cares very little about its credibility. Apparently the Department is afraid to release the names of over 500 institutions under funding restrictions and enhanced scrutiny.

But the department has refused to provide the names of those colleges because of the “competitive injury” it may cause them.


And what the hell will happen to institutions receiving the lowest PIRS ratings? Seriously, this makes no sense. Unless they are designing the ratings to give specific institutions the lowest ratings. This would mean they are targeting a specific group of institutions and that the game is rigged. Or that a different group of inmates is in charge of each of these projects. The Department really needs to think about consistency in its behavior and make an appeal to the President to back off PIRS or ask the Wizard of Oz for a backbone and courage. Yeah, I am probably reducing or eliminating the number of invitations I will receive from the Department in the future with this comment, but I am just so disappointed in this kind of inconsistency.

Of course, I am still waiting for Ted Mtichell or someone else from the Department to call me about using state data, but apparently that’s not going to happen. Perhaps because I suggested that our timeline probably would not be as quick as theirs. I’m not sure why that would matter since they haven’t hit any of their promised deadlines yet. (I often have that problem as well, and that is the nice thing about self-imposed deadlines – you can move them at will.)

Published on the same day, also at InsideHigherEd, is this story covering the release of a report from the National Student Clearinghouse showing that nearly half of the graduates with four-year degrees had experiences in community colleges. In fact, 65% of had three or more semesters of enrollment at a community college. Matt Reed writes about this pointing to the disconnect between thjhese data, the IPEDS GRS, and what typically is defined as success or failure for community colleges. Reed makes the further connection between community college transfer to four-year institution and student debt. What he leaves out is the connection to PIRS.

Yes, everything comes back to PIRS.

If PIRS happens and Congress somehow embraces it, it will drive federal data collections and definition of metrics for years to come. For good or ill, the concept paper from Senate HELP Committee suggests how things might be throttled back, but Congress has never been shy about adding things it wants to College Navigator.

Be nice. It won't hurt either of us.

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