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Six-year plans and all that jazz

by Tod Massa 30. August 2013 20:17

Yes, it's another Friday night and I am blogging work stuff. I hope that in another few weeks I can find a different time to do this, especially since I get so little feedback on these. Yet I know you are reading. The NSA told me so. 

I went down Virginia seekin' shelter from the storm
Caught up in the fable I watched the tower grow 
Five Six year plans and new deals wrapped in golden chains  powerpoint. 
And I wonder, still I wonder, who'll stop the rain. 
  -- Apologies: Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Who'll Stop the Rain?"

 So, we have finished the six-year plans meetings.  Six or more of these in a week is tiring, at the least. These meetings are tremendous opportunities for institutional leadership to present their plans and update senior staff from Senate Finance, House Appropriations, Department of Planning and Budget, the Secretary of Finance, the Secretary of Education, and, of course, SCHEV, on the status and activities of the institution. This is also the time we review the enrollment projections and degree estimates, rather than in separate meetings as we have done in the past.

It's a fun time for all! Seriously though, Virginia institutions are doing some very good work.

This week we have also had lots more analysis of President Obama's higher education plan, or rather, analysis of the ongoing reaction to the plan, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle have both run interesting articles. AEI and New America Foundation have released papers of interest. The most interesting was today's release of USED's new proposal for Gainful Employment regulations, just in time for the kick-off of negotiated rule-making. Higher ED Watch's Ben Miller at New America has a good analysis here. It's worth reading - regardless of your institution. Why? Because, I suspect, this is the playbook for the College Scorecard and any new ratings system. If this proposal survives the process, courts, and congress, I am sure it means GE for everyone, every program. After all, the data model is what is promised in the Scorecard, and differs little from what Virginia and five other states have done. And it doesn't require creating IPEDS Unit Record.

This is an important paragraph from Ben Miller's analysis:

10 is the Magic Number
Any program with at least 10 graduates whose earnings can be verified by the Social Security Administration is now subject to accountability. This would result in the faster capture of more programs, as the 2011 regulation required programs to have at least 30 graduates in order to be measured. Those that didn't meet the minimum size threshold could be aggregated over multiple years or similar program types, which would make up some of the difference, but those provisions are not suggested in the new language. This change alone increases the number of measured programs from 5,632 to 11,359 (though only about 100,000 more borrowers are included).

In other words, much less of a concern about privacy than what SCHEV has exhibited in our reporting. This could push us to reconsider our approach if this becomes the standard. After all, our approach has somewhat of dampening effect on the magnitude of annual changes. But this is also a good thing, in my opinion, as it avoids tremendous annual swings in small programs. 

In any event, this is the story to watch.













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