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NEA on the Department’s College Ratings Framework

NEA’s Lily Eskelsen García: All students should have a fair shot at a college education


WASHINGTON - December 19, 2014 -

The U.S. Department of Education released a college ratings system framework today. The Administration announced the rating system in August 2013 in an effort to hold the nation's roughly 7,000 colleges accountable for their students' success.

National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García made the following statement emphasizing NEA’s commitment to ensuring all students have access to a quality higher education and expressed concern about several shortcomings in the proposed plan.

“As educators, we believe all students should have a fair shot at a college education so they can pursue their dreams. Today’s students are tomorrow’s educators, doctors, nurses, engineers, and scientists—the next generation of innovators who will drive our country and our economy forward.”

“Closing the gaps that keep students from achieving their dreams is a goal we share with the Department but the proposed standards fall short of the mark in many places, and in some cases, could exacerbate the problems,” said Eskelsen Garcia. “By only focusing on a narrow set of factors like Pell Grants, it is all too easy to see this system rewarding those institutions that already serve privileged socio-economic populations, and punishing those institutions that serve lower income students and other disadvantage communities.”

“We see a good first step in the framework’s plan to compare like institutions to like institutions, and in the inclusion of student characteristics. However, the solution does not correctly address the complexity of the system. Institutions differ as to their size, their curriculum focus, the populations they serve, and most importantly their mission. The system should recognize those differences.”

“And in the inclusion of completion rates, we see again a simplistic measure that gives only a myopic view of the real source of success or failure in higher education. A student’s working situation, family position, and understanding of higher education culture all affect their ability to complete their education. A single mother working two jobs, caring for her family, and attending school at night who completes a degree in nine years is counted a failure, instead of being celebrated as a triumph.”

“We are sure to hear much more on these standards from our members in K-12 and higher education. We plan to share their thoughts with the department during the comment period.”
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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3 million elementary and secondary teachers,higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Celeste Busser
202-262-0589, cfbusser@nea.org