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The College Scorecard: A new player in the game.

Author: 
Sweet, Cynthia
Committee Members: 
Dr. Michelle Violanti
Date: 
December 2016

Abstract: 

Almost all products and services offered in the world today are evaluated on any number of criteria such as reputation, quality, popularity, or value, which results in a ranking or a rating of those products or services. In the world of higher education, colleges and universities are ranked and rated based on numerous factors such as academic quality, competitiveness in the admission process, academic programs, experiential programs, geographic location, size, and more by companies like US News and World Report and Kiplinger. In February 2013, President Obama and the US Department of Education launched the College Scorecard (https://collegescorecard.ed.gov), an online tool that “highlights key indicators about the cost and value of institutions across the country to help students choose a school that is well-suited to meet their needs, priced affordably, and is consistent with their educational and career goals” (Duncan, 2013). With the introduction of the College Scorecard, the purpose of this paper is to examine the communication feedback that has occurred since its launch and evaluate that feedback. The study also provides implications for the various stakeholders regarding the College Scorecard. The results included the evaluation of 375 comments which were grouped into four main constituencies; (1) High School teachers, (2) members of the public, (3) College and University faculty and staff, and (4) Special Interest Groups. Within these groups, the top 5 most frequently used words were students, institutions, ratings, systems, and data. The overall findings of the present study indicate the overall reception of the College Scorecard by constituencies with a vested interest in higher education to be the Scorecard is similar to rankings and ratings already executed each year by companies like USNWR and Kiplinger, meaning that while the ideology and intent may be good, the execution is lacking in its ability to achieve fair and equal unilateral comparisons between institutions.