Report: Transparency Alone Is Inadequate

October 4, 2019

A report released by the think tank New America Thursday finds that transparency alone hasn't led to improvements in performance for the higher education sector. The author, Spiros Protopsaltis, argues that transparency measures must be used alongside consequential accountability with rewards and sanctions in order to hold colleges accountable.

Protopsaltis, an associate professor of education policy and director of the Center for Education Policy at George Mason University, is also a former official at the Education Department and Democratic aide on the House education committee.

The report argues for overhauling the current federal accountability system and offers a framework that includes both rewards and penalties to incentivize better outcomes at colleges. Protopsaltis also calls for balancing program- and institutional-level accountability. The first, he said, should be used for lower-stakes measures like transparency tools while the colleges themselves should face sanctions or other higher-stakes accountability measures.

The report also calls for the use of both bright-line accountability metrics and graduated accountability measures for colleges.

Protopsaltis calls for strengthening the federal 90-10 rule, which limits the share of revenue for-profit colleges can take in from federal aid. But he suggests the rule could be waived for the highest-performing institutions in the for-profit sector.

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