Thursday, September 12, 2013

Institutional effectiveness and efficiency

The Midwestern Higher Education Compact recently shared a report on the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Post-secondary Institutions in Minnesota (PDF). My institution, the University of Minnesota Morris, fared very well in the report, and I'd like to share the results with you.

From the report:

Graduation rates are frequently employed in rating the effectiveness and efficiency of colleges and universities. The use of graduation rates as performance indicators can be observed in state and federal accountability measures, accreditation regulations, and institutional performance reports. Graduation rates are typically conceptualized as the percentage of degree-seeking students in a first-time, full-time cohort who graduate within a specific period of time, such as four, five, or six years. Graduation rates are sometimes refined by taking into account transfer students or program length, but a raw graduation rate of some sort is typically used in institutional and state comparisons. However, numerous factors beyond institutional control strongly influence graduation rates, especially students’ pre-college academic preparedness. Consequently, variation in raw graduation rates may better reflect differences in such factors as admissions selectivity or institutional mission rather than whether institutional practices and programs are in fact conducive to student success.

The results demonstrate the potential value of using a measure that adjusts for institutions’ structural, demographic, and contextual characteristics. Low graduation rates may in fact reflect institutional practices that are satisfactory or better. For instance, while a seemingly low proportion of students in degree-seeking cohorts graduate within four or six years in Ohio, the rates are higher than predicted and thus merit the “Very High” effectiveness rating. Moreover, states with nearly identical graduation rates may have dissimilar institutional effectiveness ratings due to different types of institutions, student populations, and institutional contexts. The average graduation rates for public four-year institutions are quite similar in Indiana and Mississippi, but the overall institutional effectiveness ratings differ, “Low” and “High.”

Among public two-year colleges, Rainy River Community College is the most effective and Anoka-Ramsey Community College is the most efficient. Among public four-year institutions, University of Minnesota-Morris is the most effective and the most efficient (based on the six-year graduation rate). Among private four-year institutions, Northwestern College is the most effective and the most efficient.

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