|Goal:||Increase college access, quality, and completion by strengthening higher education and lifelong learning opportunities.|
|Objective:||Increase the number of U.S. students completing associate's degree programs.|
|How progress is measured:||Students completing an associate's degree within 3 years from their initial institution: 2001 and 2006 entry cohorts|
|Why is this measure important?||To meet the President’s 2020 goal for increased educational attainment, millions of additional Americans will need to earn an associate's degree by 2020. Occupations requiring higher educational attainment are projected to grow much faster than those requiring lower educational attainment, with the fastest growth among occupations that require an associate’s degree or a postsecondary vocational award. Dramatically boosting community-college completion rates is essential if Americans are to compete successfully in the years ahead against their peers in a global economy.
Today, close to 70% of students who enroll in community college fail to complete a 2-year program within 3 years. Our nation’s institutions for higher education need to do more than enroll students in college; they need to ensure they successfully complete their degrees.
|What do the data tell us at the national level?||The percentage of students graduating with an associate's degree or certificate within 150 percent of normal time of entry from the 2-year degree-granting institutions where the students started as full-time, first-time students, was lower for the cohort entry year of 2006 (29.2 percent) than it was for the cohort entry year of 2001 (30.0 percent).|
|What are the limitations of the indicator?||The graduation rate was calculated as the total number of completers within the specified time to degree attainment divided by the estimate of students who entered the institution as first-time, full-time undergraduates seeking an associate’s degree or certificate degree minus any allowable exclusions. This is the measure required for disclosure and reporting purposes under the Student Right-To-Know Act. Allowable exclusions include those students who had died or were totally and permanently disabled; those who had left school to serve in the armed forces; those who had left to serve with a foreign aid service of the federal government such as the Peace Corps; and those who had left to serve on official church missions. The cohort in this indicator consists of those students who enrolled for the first time in the institution in the entry academic year. Students who transferred to another institution are included in the enrollment of the institution they transferred out of and are not included in the enrollment of the institution they transferred into. In addition, students who transferred to another institution are not counted as completers in either institution, even if they graduated from the institution they transferred into. The number of completers used in the calculation of the graduation rate for each time-to-degree designation is cumulative.|
|Documentation for the indicator:||Data on associate’s degree and certificate completion are from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Spring Survey, a mandated universe data collection. The data feature the percentage of students graduating with an associate's degree or certificate within 150 percent of normal time of entry in a given year (or 3 years) from the 2-year degree-granting institutions where the students started as full-time, first-time students. As mandated by Title IV of the Higher Education Act, IPEDS gathers information from every college, university, and technical and vocational institution that participates in the federal student financial aid programs (more than 6,700 institutions each year). For additional information on IPEDS, visit http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/. For more information on the graduation rate, see: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2010152rev.|