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ERIC Number: EJ1092435
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1067-1803
A Question of Accountability: Looking beyond Federal Mandates for Metrics That Accurately Benchmark Community College Success
Joch, Alan
Community College Journal, v84 n5 p54-58, 60, 62 Apr-May 2014
The need for increased accountability in higher education and, specifically, the nation's community colleges-is something most educators can agree on. The challenge has, and continues to be, finding a system of metrics that meets the unique needs of two-year institutions versus their four-year-counterparts. Last summer, President Obama unveiled the Postsecondary Institution Ratings System (PIRS), a benchmarking system that aims to rate two- and four-year colleges on a range of factors, from average tuition to number of low-income students enrolled to graduation rates to student loan debt, among other elements. The system, which the administration hoped to implement by the 2015 academic year, could impact how the federal government divvies up federal funding for higher education. Despite a broad push for improved accountability, the program came under immediate fire from several community college advocates who said it would be wrong to hold the nation's two-year and four-year colleges to the same standards, essentially calling it unfair. Community colleges have a different makeup than four-year colleges and universities, according to the system's critics. Students' academic goals are also often wildly different. The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and other two-year education advocates say a better approach might already exist pointing to The Voluntary Framework of Accountability (VFA), a metrics and benchmarking system developed by community college leaders for community colleges. Proponents say the VFA more accurately portrays the progress of diverse student populations, including full- and part-time students, who strive to attain degrees, earn credits in preparation for transferring to other institutions, or gain new professional skills while enrolled at the nation's two-year colleges. PIRS is still in development--so no one knows for sure the data colleges will be required to gather and publish. Some have suggested that the administration consider adopting elements of the VFA that would better take into account the distinct characteristics of community colleges in such evaluations. Whatever form PIRS takes, educators say it will have an impact on community colleges. Across the country, two-year college leaders are monitoring PIRS while simultaneously moving to implement elements of the VFA, saying the time has come to hold colleges accountable for the success of their students.
American Association of Community Colleges. One Dupont Circle NW Suite 410, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-728-0200; Fax: 202-833-2467; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California; Florida; Pennsylvania
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A