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ERIC Number: ED561779
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Nov
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Transparency and Accountability: "Implementing a Postsecondary Institution Rating System That Empowers Students While Avoiding Unintended Consequences"
Harmon, Tim; Cielinski, Anna
Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success
In an economy that increasingly demands postsecondary credentials to access high-paying jobs with the potential for career advancement, students need comprehensive and reliable information to make better college and career choices. This need has prompted a vigorous national dialogue about the best way to provide information on the performance of postsecondary institutions, as well as how this information should be used to inform students and encourage improved outcomes. The U.S. Department of Education's Postsecondary Institution Rating System (PIRS) proposal, along with consumer reporting provisions included in legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, advances this dialogue and sets the stage for prospective solutions. As these efforts move forward, policymakers at the federal and state levels should give special attention to the needs of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Substantial improvements in the availability of consumer information, as well as the eventual use of this information for greater accountability, are possible, but careful design of these information systems is essential to minimize the risk to the nation's most vulnerable students. While recent Department of Education initiatives, such as the College Scorecard, have greatly strengthened the information base available to the public, there is more work to be done to provide better and more comprehensive information about access, progress, completion, and important post-graduation outcomes. Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) supports increasing transparency and accountability for postsecondary results and sees PIRS as an important instrument to promote these goals. This paper presents recommendations for implementing PIRS in a way that supports the goal of empowering students by providing the information they need to make informed decisions about their postsecondary plans while also avoiding unintended consequences, especially for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including low-income and under-represented students. The paper is based on CLASP's PIRS comments to the Department of Education, as well as the testimony to the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance on PIRS. CLASP has also authored a companion briefing paper, "Workforce Results Matter: The Critical Role of Employment Outcome Data in Improving Transparency of Postsecondary Education and Training," focusing on the importance of including employment-related outcomes, such as post-graduation employment rates and earnings levels. [For the companion briefing paper "Workforce Results Matter: 'The Critical Role of Employment Outcome Data in Improving Transparency of Postsecondary Education and Training'", see ED561780.]
Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success. Available from: CLASP. 1200 18th Street NW Suite 200, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-906-8000; Fax: 202-842-2885; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Postsecondary Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success