As we’ve pointed out, even Janet Napolitano isn’t thrilled with Obama’s college ratings plan. In a new post at See Thru Edu, Lindsey Burke provides more reasons to be skeptical.

If You Like Obamacare, You’ll Love the Fed’s College Rating Proposal

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) showed some clear thinking on the Obama administration’s push for a federal college scorecard this week during a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP) hearing on accreditation as quality assurance. Libby Nelson at Politico reported:

He [Harkin] said he was also concerned about programs within universities. What if one university or college has a strong program amid a host of weak offerings, and gets a low rating as a result? … These, he said, were “things that I had not thought about before.”

It’s an important question that highlights just one of many problems involved with the federal government injecting itself into rating college quality. The proposal would condition access to federal student aid on a college’s performance on the Department of Education’s rating system. The proposal has garnered criticism from a wide range of observers.

Senator Lamar Alexander said forcing all 6,000 colleges to use the same rating system would turn Washington into “a sort of national school board for our colleges and universities.” The Brookings Institution’s Matthew Chingos notes that “Academic preparation is the most important factor to adjust for in order to identify the institutions that provide better educational experiences rather than those that simply enroll better-prepared students.” As Chingos points out, “The annual U.S. News rankings received well-deserved scorn for rewarding colleges for attracting students with better test scores and penalizing those that attract students who are more challenging to educate.”

Designing such a system is tricky, and if the Obamacare website debacle is any indication, we should be skeptical of Washington’s ability to accurately and fairly evaluate every college and university on a uniform scorecard.