IHEP President Dr. Michelle Asha Cooper Reacts to PIRS

Published Dec 01, 2014

by: Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D.

This is an excerpt from a statement offered by IHEP president Dr. Michelle Asha Cooper in response to the release of the Department of Education’s Postsecondary Institution Ratings System (PIRS) framework. 

A well-designed college rating system can promote value in three important ways: 1) to offer college information in a more student-relevant way, (2) to inform policy development and institutional accountability, and 3) to support institutional improvement efforts. We at the Institute for Higher Education Policy support the idea of a college ratings system, in theory, but recognize that the technical details and application of this framework are essential.   We believe that the college ratings system must centralize access, equity, and value. With these priorities in mind, we offer two preliminary reactions:

  1. We recognize that it may be difficult to achieve the consumer information and accountability goals in one ratings system and encourage the development of a separate ratings system for each goal.
  2. We strongly believe that important equity indicators were omitted from the framework, namely access and completion metrics for underrepresented minority students, specifically African-Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics/Latinos.

We appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback on the ratings system and hope to offer technical assistance on the measures included in the framework. We believe that the ratings system can be a positive catalyst for change and action if developed and disseminated effectively. Another tool on a website will not be sufficient to inform student choice or institutional improvement effort. As ED moves forward, it will be absolutely essential to coordinate efforts with students, institutional practitioners, and other stakeholders to ensure that data use and application are optimized. After all, better data alone cannot change behavior or outcomes; that’s what people can do.

View the PDF to read Dr. Cooper’s full statement.