Thursday, June 04, 2009

Making Graduation Rates Publicly Available

by Daniel Bennett

The American Enterprise Institute recently released a new study, Diplomas and Dropouts: Which Colleges Actually Graduate Their Students (and Which Don't), which identifies the 6-year graduation rates of more than 1,300 U.S colleges and institutions. Its authors, Frederick Hess, Mark Schneider, Kevin Carey and Andrew Kelly, sorted the schools by Barron's Selectivity Index in order to measure the variation in graduation rates among schools with similar admissions selectivity policies. They reached the conclusions that the more selective an institution, the higher the graduation rate, and that there exists wide discrepancy in completion rates among schools that admit similar types of students (lowest at the most selective colleges).

These conclusions are similar to statistical work that CCAP has done. Using regression analysis, we found:
(1) a significant negative relationship between 4-year graduation rates and admission rate, percent enrolled and percent receiving a Pell grant.
(2) a significant positive correlation between 4-year graduation rates and SAT scores and private schools
These findings suggest that some schools are doing a better job than others at graduating their students. We do not yet know if it is because of dedication to student success or easing the graduation requirements; however, the variation among schools with otherwise similar students, is reason for concern. The AEI report, along with CCAP's continued work, should help raise awareness of this issue, and is accessible to students, parents, guidance counselors and policy makers for decision making. Unless students choose to follow Stephen J. Trachtenberg's recommendation (President Emeritus of George Washington University) to
"Choose a school by its endowment size, go to the richest school that you can get into because conceivably they are using the resources to benefit students,"
students ought to know their chances of receiving a degree at a particular school -- Diplomas and Dropouts makes this possible. Keep up the good work guys!

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