White House Seeks to Monitor College Graduation Rates

By By U Wire

By U Wire

LOS ANGELES?The Bush administration is currently considering a proposal to strictly monitor college graduation rates, and some higher education officials do not like the way the plan is developing.

In February, the U.S. Department of Education released its new “strategic plan” draft. It consisted of an outline of the Bush administration’s policy goals for improving elementary, secondary and higher education over the next five years.

A final version was scheduled to come out earlier this month, but its release has been postponed, according to the American Council of Education.

The section of the draft concerning higher education said, “although American institutions of higher education are among the best in the world, the public and many policymakers are especially concerned about the effectiveness of postsecondary institutions” and are concerned about universities graduating students “in a timely fashion.”

Currently, colleges are required to report their graduation rates each year to the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics and have them available upon request.

The proposal under consideration could make states serve as agencies to the federal government by keeping track of the graduation rates of colleges at all levels: community, public and private.

There are not yet specific details on how the plan would be implemented, nor are there specifics as to how the federal government might keep states accountable for their schools’ graduation rates.

The issue of monitoring college graduation rates is more of a concern because of the expected increase in college students over the next 10 years, according to the Department of Education and the American Council of Education

“The number of college students is expected to grow within the next 10 years,” said Paul Hassen, assistant director of public affairs of the American Council of Education, a group that advocates the interests and goals of higher education.

“The major concern is whether or not we will be able to accommodate all of them,” he added.

Some college lobbyists and leaders in education object to the administration’s proposal, saying it is inappropriate for the federal government to dictate to states how they oversee college graduation rates, especially private ones.

The number of students going to college will increase because more and more students from underrepresented and minority groups will consider going to college, Hassen said.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to obtain a Bachelor’s degree is 5.5 years, according to the American Council on Education.

Some universities are already making an effort in accommodating large amounts of students and getting them to graduate in four years.

U WIRE