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C-RAC Releases One-Year Review of Institutions with Low Graduation Rates

Updated: Feb 3


New report highlights accreditors’ efforts to more accurately identify, monitor,

and hold institutions accountable for improved graduation rates

WASHINGTON, DC—February 6, 2018—The Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions—​​the umbrella group of the nation’s seven ​​regional accreditors responsible for overseeing institutional quality at more than 3,000 institutions—released a report today

summarizing the findings from a year-long review of institutions identified as having the lowest federal graduation rates.

The study, which focuses on four-year institutions with six-year graduation rates at or below 25 percent and two-year institutions with three-year rates at or below 15 percent, is part of a C-RAC effort begun in September 2016 to highlight the importance of improving graduation rates across the nation.

This review takes a deeper look at these institutions to get a more complete understanding of their student outcomes and the extent to which the graduation data provide a complete picture of institutional quality.

The C-RAC study highlights the limitations of the widely used federal “Student Right to Know” graduation rate and identifies how accreditors use alternative sources of graduation information, including recently-released federal outcomes data and other measures capturing more students over longer periods of time, to more accurately assess institutional quality and progress.

“The report provides a comprehensive overview of what all seven regional accreditors are doing to better understand institutional graduation rates. It also identifies the variety of approaches being implemented by institutions that are keenly aware of the need to improve these rates,” says Dr. Barbara Gellman-Danley, chair of C-RAC and president of the Higher Learning Commission.

“As this report shows, a single graduation data point will never be enough to appropriately judge the quality of an institution, but it can be a warning sign to determine what, if any, additional oversight, monitoring, or sanctions are warranted.”

The report says that while many high-and low-graduation rate institutions are introducing far-reaching changes to improve student outcomes, there is more work to be done that will require a concerted effort throughout the higher education community. The report also highlights efforts underway by the nation’s regional accreditors, including projects to strengthen data analysis capabilities and improve research capacity. Accreditors are committed to exploring approaches such as benchmarking different types of institutions and using predictive analytics to understand more about graduation rates.

“Our nation must do a better job at ensuring more of our students not only enroll, but also complete their college education,” according to Dr. Gellman-Danley. “As regional accreditors, we fully understand our important role in helping institutions improve, monitoring progress, and holding institutions accountable.”

Click here to read the report.

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