• Media Release
  • 10.12.17

New Federal Data Highlights the Success of More College Students

  • by AIR

October 12, 2017 – The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released new data today that provide a more comprehensive look at the proportion of college students who successfully complete a postsecondary degree or certificate. Unlike graduation rates previously reported by NCES, the new Outcome Measures account for non-traditional students, including those who attend part time or who transfer among institutions.

The Outcome Measures for 2016-17, along with other data, are published in a new report released today by NCES as part of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). NCES is a center in the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the independent research, evaluation, and statistics arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

“The new Outcome Measures are an important step by the U.S. Department of Education to more fully account for the success of all postsecondary students,” said Christine M. Keller, the Executive Director & CEO of the Association for Institutional Research (AIR). “With the rapid growth of students who attend multiple institutions or who attend part-time, it is critical that the metrics used to measure student progress and completion reflect the changing student pathways to a degree or certificate. The new Outcome Measures data will help to provide more accurate information on how well colleges and universities are serving all students.”

The new Outcome Measures calculations include four categories of students:

  • First-time, full-time students—those students who enroll full-time with no previous college attendance;

  • First-time, part-time students—those students who enroll part-time with no previous college attendance;

  • Non-first-time, full-time students—those students who transfer in from another postsecondary institution and who enroll full-time; and

  • Non-first-time, part-time students— those students who transfer in from another postsecondary institution and who enroll part-time.

NCES has collected and published graduation rates within IPEDS for colleges and universities since the 1990s. However, the rates were limited to more traditional college students – the students who enroll full-time in postsecondary education and start and finish at the same institution.

More details and background on the new measures can be found on the Outcome Measures resource page on the NCES website. Additional education and training resources for the new Outcome Measures, as well as other IPEDS surveys, are located on the AIR website and publicly available for all members of the higher education data community.

About AIR

The Association for Institutional Research (AIR) supports higher education professionals in the collection, analysis, interpretation, and communication of data, and the strategic use of information for effective decision making and planning. AIR provides resources, innovative practices, and professional development opportunities for AIR members and the higher education community, including professionals from institutional research, effectiveness, assessment, planning, and related fields. For more information, visit www.airweb.org.

About NCES

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations. NCES is located within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences. NCES fulfills a Congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally. Visit https://nces.ed.gov/ for more information.


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