Following up on yesterday’s speculative article, here is Obama’s plan:

The president will call for rating colleges before the 2015 school year on measures such as affordability and outcomes, including graduation and transfer rates.

Mr. Obama also will urge innovation in higher education, encouraging colleges to pursue ideas including three-year accelerated degrees and massive open online courses. The president will return to some familiar ideas as well, calling for an expansion of his pay-as-you-earn program that caps student loan payments at 10% of monthly income and re-upping his funding requests for the Race to the Top program, which is focused on state higher education reforms.

Ratings systems are a terrible idea, plain and simple. Colleges will start playing the game to win the numbers instead of doing what’s best for their students. The plan is already flawed from the start because you’re punishing students rather than schools:

Students at top-performing colleges could receive larger federal grants and more affordable student loans. The plan is expected to spur pushback from some colleges.

It’s not as if students aren’t choosing affordable, well performing schools. Often times they may not be able to get into the best or most affordable schools. Universities are rarely 1:1 comparisons too. My wife’s university was a large 30,000+ student campus, considered average by most state measures. However they had top programs in music, art, and counseling.

Are you going to punish students wanting to attend the best programs in their field because on the whole the university is average?

It just doesn’t make sense. This program sounds like No Child Left Behind for universities.

Just like No Child Left Behind created metrics that in reality didn’t work and ended up punishing students at disadvantaged schools, Obama’s plan seems to punish students at lower performing schools while rewarding the ones at already advantaged universities.