New British Prime Minister Theresa May announced six members of her Cabinet Wednesday.

Amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent in Egypt, security forces have forcibly disappeared hundreds of people since the beginning of 2015, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

It's an "unprecedented spike," the group says, with an average of three or four people disappeared every day.

The Republican Party, as it prepares for its convention next week has checked off item No. 1 on its housekeeping list — drafting a party platform. The document reflects the conservative views of its authors, many of whom are party activists. So don't look for any concessions to changing views among the broader public on key social issues.

Many public figures who took to Twitter and Facebook following the murder of five police officers in Dallas have faced public blowback and, in some cases, found their employers less than forgiving about inflammatory and sometimes hateful online comments.

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

Ask a typical teenage girl about the latest slang and girl crushes and you might get answers like "spilling the tea" and Taylor Swift. But at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., the answers were "intersectional feminism" — the idea that there's no one-size-fits-all definition of feminism — and U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Pages

Do The Data Exist To Make A College-Rating System Work?

Aug 22, 2013
Originally published on August 22, 2013 6:46 pm

President Obama unveiled a plan on Thursday that would, for the first time, tie federal student aid to a new rating system for colleges and universities. While the president's message that higher education costs should be reined in was simple enough, the sweeping proposal is anything but.

Beginning in 2018, the administration wants colleges and universities that depend on federal aid to disclose exactly what their tuition and fees cover, how many low-income students a school admits, graduation rates, how much debt students graduate with and whether they find good-paying jobs after graduation.

Based on this information, the U.S. Department of Education would then rate schools. The higher a school's rating, the more federal aid a student at that school would receive. Students at poorly rated schools would get less.

"This raises lots of questions," says Sandy Baum, an economist at the Urban Institute and a fellow at George Washington University. "Do you mean earnings right after you graduate," asks Baum — or seven years later?

"So really, we're going to have good data on how much students earn seven years later? That's what you need," Baum says. "The question about how much students borrow — are you including students who dropped out or only those who graduate? It's very difficult to do this right."

President Obama's carrot-and-stick approach, though, is the result of a growing frustration not just about rising costs but about the value of a college education and whether students are getting their money's worth. So, there's a certain logic in shifting $150 billion in annual student aid to higher-rated schools. The problem is that many of the things the administration wants to measure are hard to measure.

"We support data analysis and we support transparency, but it is hard to imagine that you can develop a rating or a ranking of institutions on the basis of an extensive amount of data, and right now the data available [are] seriously limited," says Molly Broad, president of the American Council on Education, which lobbies Congress on behalf of higher education.

What higher education is more likely to support, Broad says, is the president's push for more experimentation. Many institutions have just begun to adopt online learning as a cheaper way to deliver instruction. Three-year degree programs are rare. The administration wants to earmark at least $500 million for innovative programs and new approaches to instruction.

So, yes, Broad says, some of the president's ideas have merit. Now, she says, the people the president really needs to persuade are lawmakers in Washington.

"The administration will not be able to implement this without action by the Congress," she says.

The president says his proposal should appeal to both Democrats and Republicans, but already Republican leaders sound skeptical.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.