Better Data, Better Rates

Colleges may be able to improve their graduation rates by gaining a better understanding of the students they enroll, according to a report being released today.

The report, from the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles, brings together data from the "freshman survey" by UCLA's Cooperative Institutional Research Program and graduation numbers from the National Student Clearinghouse and aims to help colleges determine if they have actually improved retention rates or if they have simply attracted better students.

Linda DeAngelo, assistant director for research at UCLA’s Cooperative Institutional Research Program, said the study could eventually help in improving graduation rates. Officials said the new data tell colleges how well they are doing with respect to the students they are bringing in. Without such analysis, colleges may think they are improving their graduation rates when they really are only enrolling better-prepared students.

“It lets them compare the expected rate of graduation to the real rate,” DeAngelo said. “One of the takeaways from this report is that there are persistent gaps that need to be addressed. We need to look at the population that have these gaps to help them graduate.”

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