Why is this important?
This measures the rate at which entering freshmen graduate within 150 percent of normal program length. Data are provided for six-year graduation rates for full-time bachelor's degree- seeking students and three-year graduation rates for full-time associate degree-seeking students.
What are the policy implications?
This, in part, is a measure of the efficiency with which students' complete college. It is a good measure of how well students within states are persisting to a degree. A high value on this measure benefits a state in two important ways: 1) it leads to higher degree production and a better educated citizenry, and 2) the postsecondary pipeline is functioning better - students are moving through the pipeline at higher rates allowing more room for others to enter.
There are many factors that influence this statistic. Students who begin full-time but spend most of their undergraduate experience attending part-time while taking on other responsibilities will drive this statistic down. This statistic also doesn't account for transfers across institutions.
Other factors to consider:
Graduation rates are associated with first-year retention rates. The stage at which most students abandon their pursuit of a degree is during their first year. If a state has high proportions of students dropping out during the first year, it's difficult to recover to relatively high graduation rates. It is also useful to look at other measures of degree production - linked below.
Retention Rates - First-Time College Freshmen Returning Their Second Year
Associate Degrees Awarded Per 100 HS Graduates 3 Years Earlier
Bachelor's Degrees Awarded Per 100 HS Graduates 6 Years Earlier
Ratio of Degrees and Credentials Awarded to the Number of Students Enrolled
2001 Completions by State, Sector, Level, Race, and Gender
Six- Year Graduation Rates by State and Sector - 1999
Graduation rates are associated with many other factors (e.g. high school course taking, ACT and SAT scores, socioeconomic background, ethnicity, etc.). While this level of information is not on this site given the lack of data availability across states, it is useful to look within your state to determine these relationships.
Data sources and related links:
Measuring Up: The State-by-State Report Cardhttp://www.highereducation.org