The White House launched its new college information website this weekend, opening public access to a wide range of federal data for the first time.
The administration created the website in lieu of a ratings system plan that was scrapped earlier this year.
Much of the information on the site is the kind of traditional basics that have been available for years now: graduation rates, average annual cost, and standardized test scores.
But the online tool also includes a lot of information about student outcomes, some of it publicly available for the first time ever.
Infographic: Six ways to prepare students for the workforce
For the first time, the Department of Education combined their data with federal tax records—allowing the site to provide detailed information about graduate salaries.
Now, each school's page also features stats such as:
- Median salary of graduates;
- Percent of graduates who earn more than $25,000;
- Average monthly student loan payment; and
- Percent of graduates who make a payment on their loans within three years.
The tool marks the national average for each metric so viewers can compare where the institution stands.
See also: Some college rankings have tried similar efforts using Payscale.com data in the past
Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, says the association is concerned about the lack of nuance in the data. She also expressed concern that the Department of Education compiled the data "without any external review."
Some worried the sheer volume of data may confuse prospective students. "It's good information to have, but it doesn't tell an individual student what to do," says Sara Goldrick-Rab, education policy professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
But any data might be better than no data, suggests Anthony Carnevale, director of the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University. He acknowledges the scorecard is "imperfect" but calls the current model a "crucial down payment on the data we need at the federal level."
It's simply time to get working on the next model, suggests Carnevale. "The only substitute for imperfect data is better data," he says (Turner, NPR, 9/12; Stratford, Inside Higher Ed, 9/14; Department of Education College Scorecard, accessed 9/14).
Next in Today's Briefing
Around the industry: Harvard reminds tourists—stop taking photos of our students