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Careful approach sought in rating colleges

The New England Council agrees with the Globe that the goal of the Department of Education’s proposed college rating system — to give students access to the best possible information as they choose where to spend precious dollars on their education — is an important one (“New college ranking system shows merit,” Editorial, March 1). However, we have concerns about how the rating system will be developed and implemented. We also agree with your assessment that the system is not ready for the 2015-2016 school year.

The New England Council, whose members include more than 60 institutions of higher learning, ranging from community colleges to research universities, believes it is critical to proceed carefully in order to avoid unintended consequences. The council was among the many organizations to submit comments to the Department of Education last month.

The council offered three recommendations. First, we recommended that the new system be thoroughly tested and its impact on institutions carefully considered. Second, we urged the department to improve its data collection practices to ensure accuracy. Finally, we stressed that the rating system must recognize differences between institutions, including diverse goals and student populations.

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We are hopeful that the administration will take these concerns into account as the new rating system is finalized.

James T. Brett
President and CEO
The New England Council
Boston