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College Graduation-Rate Reporting Expands to Part-Timers

The U.S. Department of Education has announced it will require colleges and universities to report the graduation rates of part-time students—broadening the current law that only mandates schools track completion of full-time, first-time students.

The "Action Plan for Improving Measures of Postsecondary Success" released today is in response to recommendations from the Committee on Measures of Student Success appointed in June 2010. The 15-member committee was created by the Higher Education Opportunity Act to examine alternative measures of student success. After holding five public meetings, it issued a report last fall calling for changes in graduation reporting requirements.

In addition to following part-timers, colleges will also have to include the success rates of others who are not attending postsecondary education for the first time.

"Not all students take a linear path in their pursuit of higher education," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a statement. "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."

Later this year, a summit will be convened to highlight promising practices in the collection and dissemination of data related to student success.

This new requirement will affect 7,000 institutions that participate in federal student-aid programs and report their graduation rates through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

No timeline for implementing the additional reporting measures has been set.

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