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July 28, 2016 Comments (0) About Education

AIR Report Offers Model for Calculating College Grad Rates


(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

American Institutes for Research, a nonpartisan non-profit that conducts behavioral and social science research, has released a report titled \”Toward Improved Measurement of Student Persistence and Completion\” which describes the way the U.S. Department of Education can better report graduation rates.

In 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Education, 70,000 students earned an undergraduate credential from the college or a university that had a zero percent graduation rate. Additionally, 2.6 million students were new enrollees in 2014, but they will not be counted in the graduation rate of the colleges, regardless of whether they ever complete a certificate or degree.

The report details how hundreds of thousands of students have \”slipped through the cracks of the metric that describes probably the most fundamental results of college attendance: graduation.\” The report alleges the U.S. Education Department bakes an active decision to not include specific types of learners in the college graduation reports.

The learners who are excluded from college graduation rates are not considered full-time, first-time students when beginning their college studies. Some, enrolling for their first time, made a decision to balance their studies with work and opted to review part-time.

Others, who are working adults, choose to return to college over time of absence to complete a certification or degree for potential higher earnings, better occupations, or personal enrichment. More?began their postsecondary education at one institution and chose to transfer to another, where they earned their credentials. Many of these types of students aren\’t included in the U.S. Department Education statistics on graduation rates.

The report argues that the valid way of measuring \”institutional performance\” that reflects all kinds of student achievement is crucial for both colleges and students. Having accurate information on graduation will allow students to make informed decisions when looking for an institution of higher learning. Performance measures of universites and colleges also correlate with employment and wage prospects, something of critical interest to the student.

Furthermore, independent colleges and universities submit performance measures, namely graduation rates, to independent outlets like U.S. News Report, Forbes, and the Department of Education to determine rankings on various scorecards. Thus, reporting probably the most accurate statistics allows colleges\’ reputations to fare better among the education commentariat.

Additionally, strong performance measures will also be tied to state and federal funding, competitiveness for research grants, and longterm institutional viability. Colleges themselves have a vested interest in tabulating graduation statistics that reflect all sorts of student accreditation.

American Institutes for Research partnered with 11 colleges and universities to use institutionally-held data that allows them to calculate and contrast the completion rates of the students using various methodologies. The outcomes of the report demonstrate how well different methods reflects and can be employed to determine the totality of an institution\’s incoming students, as well as those students completion outcomes.

After reviewing things as they are of graduation rate reporting in more detail, the paper?offers new models in how best to determine these statistics for institutional accountability.

The full report can be obtained online.

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