Education Chart of the Day & A Question for Governor Mitch Daniels
March 19, 2015
Yesterday, we wrote that high school curricular rigor is the number one pre-college influence on postsecondary degree completion — more important than high school grade point average, race, family income, and parent education.
But while college presidents like Purdue University’s Mitch Daniels point to high school academic preparation as an explanation for low postsecondary degree completion levels, the data indicates that similar colleges with similar students get sometimes wildly different results. Now we don’t have student high school course transcripts to match up colleges nationally. But we do have high school GPA and incoming student SAT/ACT scores by college. Here’s what we find.
There are colleges with students who have virtually the same SAT scores and high school GPAs that graduate students at wildly different rates. Purdue and Indiana University have very similar entering average high school GPA among entering freshman (3.60 v. 3.63) and very similar estimated median SAT (1170 v. 1165). And yet Indiana graduates first time, full time freshmen within four years of initial enrollment at a rate that is 65 percent higher (39.3% v. 54.9%).
In fairness, Purdue catches up to Indiana when you stretch out the time-to-degree window and look at a period reaching all the way to six years from initial freshman enrollment. But of course that means that Purdue students have to spend and pay for an additional two years of college. There’s still the matter of institution effectiveness and efficiency over at least the traditional four-year period.
Heck, for a lot of schools we should be even more upset about institution performance when it comes to six year dropout rates. The University of Akron, for example, has an African American student dropout rate that’s over 80 percent when considering a period of time that stretches to six years from initial enrollment. Over 80 percent.
So here’s a question for Mitch Daniels, President George W. Bush’s former Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB): Shouldn’t four year degree granting colleges be held more accountable for their performance in exchange for the $180 billion the federal government supplies them each year? Shouldn’t places like the University of Akron be held accountable?
Or does where you stand on accountability in education depend on where you sit?
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