College ranking systems, guidebooks and the federal government pay close attention to the college and university graduation rates when assessing the quality of an institution. The theory is that the higher the graduation rate, the better the institution is performing.
The problem with that theory is that graduation rates ignore the differences among institutions. For example, says Wheaton Professor Paula Krebs, “a student who transfers from a community college to a four-year institution and completes a bachelor’s degree counts as a failure, in graduation-rate terms, for both the community college and the four-year institution.”
Krebs has spent the past year as an ACE Fellow working on a project to offer an alternative approach, which she wrote about with colleague Donna Ekal (associate provost for undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at El Paso) for the most recent issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education.
The explanation of reverse-transfer programs is receiving a lot of attention in the higher education world. The article has been the Chronicle’s most emailed article since it was published on Monday. In addition, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) shared the article with the chief academic officers of its member institutions.
I’ve been very excited about the attention it has received,” Krebs says. “I hope it will result in closer partnerships between many community colleges and four-year colleges, and I look forward to applying what I’ve learned this last year now that I’m back at Wheaton.