Monday, August 26, 2013
Fruits of Twitter
I didn't have time to do much more than hit some highlights, but was intrigued that they had Michigan with a slight positive score -- meaning their analysis had a lower expected graduation rate.
They are limited to the midwest, but they do look at every CC in each state they studied.
The column with cost data and an efficiency analysis was really an eye opener. I'll bet we both wonder what a similar study would show for California and Washington.
Also, setting aside the confusion about whether the rankings count certificates and transfers along with degrees: The *denominator* of that fraction is an especially poor choice if the point is to compare institutions nationally, across radically different geographies and economic landscapes. A while back, my wife and I, who live in a dense coastal metropolitan area, happened to become students of our local CC when we signed up for an evening Spanish conversation class. We had no interest in attaining some sort of coherent certificate, let alone a whole degree; we just wanted to practice our Spanish and develop a bit more fluency. The same was true for most of the 30+ people in the class. The experience fulfilled our goals perfectly, and we enjoyed it enough to move on to the next level the following term. I don't know how the population of folks like us compares with the total number of students, but given the college's location and its huge number of similar offerings, it can't be trivial.
If national rankings of CCs want to use graduation rates comparatively, they have to somehow account for the different sets of "users" CCs tend to have. (Surely the distribution of those user sets is one of the things that distinguishes, say, the Bay Area from rural Kentucky.) If you are going to tell me a given school has X students graduate or transfer "per 100 students", I need to know what those 100 students look like on average. At the very least, tell me how many of those 100 students were attending college with the *purpose* of graduating or transferring in the first place; otherwise suggesting that the resulting rankings have much meaning is a pretty hard sell.