Sunday, September 30, 2007

Spread Far the Fame of Our Fair Name (apologies to NU)
Graduation Rates Again Under the Spotlight

Everyone at BigU knows that we have serious problems with graduation rates. As was reported lately: " Professor Sirc said he talked to Dr. Howard, Director of Institutional Research, about what would be the single best measure to improve the University's rankings; Dr. Howard said it would be to improve the graduation rate."

A website devoted to college admissions reports:

Two economists at William and Mary will be publishing an article that they think improves on the "overperformance/underperformance" in US News.

Here is the link to a draft of the article:

They compare graduation rates after adjusting for four things:

(1) SAT 25th percentile

(2) percent of freshmen in top 10% of HS class

(3) percent of faculty who are full-time

(4) expenditures per student

They ranked 187 schools based on how well they exceed expectations in getting students to graduate. They produce a "technical efficiency" score for each school that tells the actual graduation rate divided by the expected graduation rate (determined by the four inputs above). For example, a technical efficiency score of .95 means that the actual graduation rate is 95% of the expected graduation rate.

This is, in effect, a ranking based on "value added." How well do schools do given the students they enroll?

nfortunately, this method indicates again that there are some severe deficiencies at BigU with respect to graduation rates as our ranking and that of some neighbors is indicated below, as well as that of some of our competition:

1 Indiana University Bloomington 1.
1 Pennsylvania State University 1.
1 University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 1.

39 University of Wisconsin Madison .995.
47 Northwestern University .985.
49 University of Michigan in Ann Arbor .981.
56 Michigan state University .973.
92 Purdue University West Lafayette at .916.
94 University of Iowa .914.

140 Ohio State University Columbus .837.

179 University of Minnesota Twin Cities .700.


Our closest competitor in the BigTen is Ohio State, the other BigTen Megaversity. But they are nearly 40 slots above us. A gap of more than 40 separates OSU from the rest of the BigTen. With the exception of Minnesota and Ohio state, the BigTen performance by this measure seems pretty respectable. Particularly interesting are the outstanding performances by Indiana, Penn State, and Illinois. There are certain geographic similarities in those institutions, but clearly having an outstanding football team does not seem to correlate with this measure of graduation rates.

So here we are again, folks. Last in the BigTen in graduation rates. Brushing this off by saying "we are improving" will not cut it. There IS literally no place to go but up - we are 179 out of 187 schools studied. Institutions clobbering us include: Universities of Kentucky, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Wyoming, Idaho, Toledo, Montana, Miami [sic], Missouri, etc., etc., ad nauseum. There is something fundamentally wrong here that needs to be attended to before we should be dreaming about being one of the "top three public research institutions in the world [sic]." The Science Class Room situation, posted on earlier, is just another example of the unreal world in which our administration seems to live. Tearing down large classrooms - required for efficiently processing the large introductory courses that are necessary at a BigU - and not replacing them is wrong-headed, especially in opposition to faculty who are actually using the present Science Classroom Building.

While the Gophers are in Indiana next weekend, maybe OurLeader and ET (Indiana Law is his alma mater) should go down a day early and talk to the folks in Bloomington about how they do so well with graduation rates? Then next Saturday they could cheer on the Gophers, in whom they have so much invested.

Ciao, Bonzo

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