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Graduation Measures Should Reflect Community-College Achievement, Advisory Committee Says

September 6, 2011

By Jennifer Gonzalez


The federal government should broaden the range of student-graduation data it reports, and improve student-transfer data, to reflect the diverse student population at community colleges and paint a fuller picture of student progress and completion at those institutions.

That is the essence of draft recommendations from a committee that has spent almost a year examining how to revise the way the government measures the academic achievement of community-college students.

The committee will meet Wednesday to discuss the draft report and make any necessary changes. It has until April to hand over a final report to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The Committee on Measures of Student Success, a 15-member group consisting of college officials, scholars, and policy experts, was charged with helping two-year colleges comply with a new federal requirement that degree-granting institutions report their completion or graduation rates, and also whether they had alternative measures for capturing student success.

The reporting requirement was included in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, which also called for the creation of the advisory committee.

Among the specific recommendations are that degree-seeking, part-time students, and those enrolled in remedial coursework, be included in the community-college graduation rates reported by the Education Department.

In addition the department should develop a measure that counts students who transfer laterally, transfer to four-year colleges, are substantially prepared for transfer, or are still enrolled beyond the statutorily defined tracking period.

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