Academics and Academia

After my two posts two weeks ago calling into question whether Rio Salado College has demonstrated clear student outcomes that justify its usage as an exemplar institution, college officials have responded through the WCET blog and in an article from Paul Fain at Inside Higher Ed. I recommend reading the IHE article in particular to get an understanding of the challenging an nuanced question of what is “good enough” in terms of college completion, and for even more detail read Rio’s written response. Unfortunately, the lengthy explanations on graduation rates from Rio end up obscuring a critical distinction between awarding degrees versus certificates of completion. The reason this matters is that Rio appears to be doing a better than average job supporting student transfers to four-year degree programs, a worse than average job of helping students complete two-year degrees, and an unknown job of providing students with non-degree stand-alone certificates.

Before dealing with this issue, I’d like to point out how useful this dialog has been and how open Rio has been in sharing internal metrics. One example that I wish other institutions used, and that can help us clarify how to understand completion data, is based on student goals.


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