Teachers College, Columbia University

What Can Student Right-to-Know Graduation Rates Tell Us About Community College Performance?

By Thomas Bailey, Peter M. Crosta & Davis Jenkins

This paper examines the validity of the Student Right-to-Know (SRK) graduation rates as measures of community college performance. The SRK rates are the only performance measures available for every undergraduate institution in the United States. Many community college educators argue that the SRK rates give an inaccurate picture of community college outcomes.

Using data from national longitudinal surveys of college students, the authors examined criticisms leveled against the SRK measures and found that the SRK rates indeed yield a potentially misleading picture of individual community college student outcomes.

The authors then analyzed the usefulness of the SRK rate as a measure of relative institutional performance. Specifically, they considered whether using different measures of performance would result in substantially different rankings of Florida’s 28 community colleges. They found that the relative performance of the colleges did not change substantially as different students or outcomes were used, even after adjusting for student characteristics.

A brief of this paper, The Value of Student-Right-to-Know Data in Assessing Community College Performance, is available for download.