Reports on college-completion rates may be giving up on students too soon:released by the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System show that a significant proportion of students do finish college degrees and professional certificates—but in double the traditional time allotted for those programs.
IPEDS, a program by the National Center for Education Statistics, collected data about more than 21 million students at 7,400 public and private colleges and universities that participated in federal student financial aid programs in 2012-13.
For 2013, the statistics agency added an expanded graduation rate, which measures the number of students who complete a degree program in twice the normal length of time. For example, to get an extended 2012 graduation rate, four-year colleges would look at the incoming class of 2004, while two-year programs would track students who entered in 2008.
Using those calculations, graduation rates for full-time, first-time undergraduates increased from 38.1 percent to 60.9 for four-year programs and from 21 percent to 38 percent at two-year institutions.
A version of this article appeared in the January 08, 2014 edition of Education Week as College Completion