Out of the approximately four million students who enter college every year, how many do you think graduate? Less than half. The data behind that statistic raises a host of interesting questions and compelling stories.
Today, The Chronicle of Higher Education has launched a new interactive tool that for the first time makes accessible the most recent data for college completion rates across the United States. This tool allows the user to examine and compare institutions by race, gender, geography; public versus private; and two-year versus four-year. It provides the raw data for people who wants to dig further and it offers the chance to share thoughts, questions, and your own information to further the conversation. The tool is linked to a series of related stories to help understand the meaning and implications of the data:
The Rise and Fall of the Graduation Rate, by Jeff Selingo. The way students go to college now makes the government's measure less useful than ever.
To Raise Completion Rates, States Dig Deeper for Data, by Eric Kelderman. Knowing more about students can help colleges do what it takes to help them graduate. Easier said than done.
For-Profits Develop More-Forgiving Measures to Tally Grads, by Goldie Blumenstyk. The federal rate's flaws loom especially large for proprietary colleges. But are their alternatives more marketing than metric?
Students Who Don't Count, by Sara Lipka. Transfers, people who take a year off, and part-time students (all a growing group of enrollees) are not included in national data about who finishes college.
Do College Completion Rates Really Measure Quality? Seven higher-education experts assess the meaning behind the measurements.
This project is a good example of an exciting three-pronged strategy many media organizations are employing in their approach to data journalism: stories, interactive data, and community (community being the effort to facilitate user input, make connections between one another and have enduring conversation).
The foundation’s media grantmaking portfolio is focusing a portion of its resources to support the dissemination of data on our priority issues – improving education in the United States and fighting poverty and disease in the developing world. This project is just one in this new initiative.
It’s worth noting that while the foundation supported this project, The Chronicle of Higher Education had complete editorial independence.
We’re looking forward to future projects like this one and open to your thoughts.