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June 9, 2014 at 9:32 am

Chicago Tribune Editorial Notes Vedder Comments on Measuring Graduation Rates

A Chicago Tribune editorial on June 8 references remarks made by Dr. Richard Vedder, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics at Ohio University. The editorial is on “How to enhance Obama’s plan for the feds to rate U.S. colleges: The president has the right motives and a half-right solution.”

You can start a donnybrook at the Faculty Club with most everyone but smart econ profs by observing that decades of expanded federal aid have had just that effect: If rising aid has helped many students attend college, it also has stoked the costs of earning sheepskins.

For an even bigger fight, stroll over to Old Main and tell the chancellor you think President Barack Obama’s plan to rate the performance of U.S. colleges will help students and their families control higher ed expenses. Mention that you think Uncle Sam will be better able to steer each year’s $150 billion in federal loans and grants to colleges that are earning that rich taxpayer investment….

Then there’s the tendency to produce more of what’s being measured. Focus on graduation rates, college finances expert Richard Vedder of Ohio University told The Wall Street Journal last summer, and “universities will do everything they can to get students to graduate. If you think we have grade inflation now, you ought to think what will happen: If you breathe into a mirror and it fogs up, you’ll get an A.” He suggested a national exam, like the Graduate Record Exam, to measure what a college’s students have learned. (Cue more apoplexy in Old Main.)

Read the editorial in the Chicago Tribune.

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