Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Try Harder: Obama's Report Cards Do Not Convince

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Try Harder: Obama's Report Cards Do Not Convince

Article excerpt

President Barack Obama's proposal to create a scorecard that will rate colleges on affordability, graduation rates and the earnings of graduates is doomed to failure, according to the president of a prestigious US college.

Kim Cassidy, the president of Bryn Mawr College, a women's liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, told Times Higher Education that it was an "extraordinarily difficult task" to produce a metric that would be fair to all institutions, and that there was "too much opposition" for the government to make progress with the plans. "My worry is that you'll end up either compromising so much, to get everybody happy, that the measures on the card will be meaningless, or you will put a stake in the ground that will grossly penalise somebody," she said, pointing out that community colleges that serve poorer communities might sacrifice academic rigour in order to ensure that their graduation rates improve.

"You risk giving people really perverse incentives," she said. "Some students [at community colleges] might not be completing because they are going on to get a four-year degree [elsewhere]. 'So what' that they didn't get their associate degree - are they a failure? …

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