Jan 2020

A Better Way To Judge Value In Higher Ed Regs

In a recent New York Times piece in which he vented about the lobbyists that hold government accountability at bay on behalf of the nation’s colleges and universities, Kevin Carey took note of a specific provision in a proposed new version of the Higher Education Act.

The provision “would require accreditors to establish minimum benchmarks for student success in graduating and getting jobs, though it does not specify what they should be,” Carey wrote.

Carey chronicled how the trade group of regional accreditors “weighed in, complaining that the benchmarks would have to be ‘numeric.’ If one of the group’s members decided that, say, 10 percent was an adequate graduation rate, it said, the education secretary could reject the benchmark as ‘too low.’ ‘This is a responsibility that should not be in the purview of the federal government,’ the group declared.” The letter Carey cited went on to decry the nature of one-size-fits-all metrics and the like—which I’m sympathetic to, but, as Carey noted, the metric even allows for different standards for different types of degrees.

By not specifying a minimum benchmark and allowing for variation, this contested provision is actually an opportunity that higher education ought to embrace rather than fight, as it could create a standard that is far more reasonable than an all-or-nothing bar that is reflective of institutions’ different missions.


Leave a reply