College graduation counts will include part-time students, returnees and transfers, according to a new U.S. Education Department “action plan.” That could raise community college graduation rates, now at 22 percent, to 40 percent, estimates the American Association of Community Colleges. Currently, federal statistics count only full-time, first-time students and treat transfers as dropouts if they don’t complete an associate degree before going on to a four-year institution.
“Not all students take a linear path in their pursuit of higher education,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “Many students work full-time and are balancing family obligations while also attending school. These new outcome measures will accurately demonstrate how postsecondary schools are preparing students for success in different ways.”
The plan will implement the recommendations of the Committee on Measures of Student Success (CMSS).