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New Tool Allows Easy Search of Career-Technical Program Performance

Information on the performance of career-technical programs released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education can be searched by state or institution with a new online tool from the American Institutes for Research.

The department provided data on career-oriented programs at for-profit and public institutions and found 5 percent were not in compliance with the new gainful-employment rules.

To help the public sift through evaluation of the nearly 3,700 programs reviewed by the department, a free tool was created by CollegeMeasures.org, a joint venture of the Matrix Knowledge Group and AIR, a Washington-based nonprofit social-science research organization. Users can access the information by state or view programs by name to see if they comply with federal requirements.

The institution assessment includes graduation rates, first-year retention rates, cost per student, student-loan default rates, and ratio of salary to cost. The tool also provides a national ranking of the college and how it is trending on various indicators.

The AIR analysis shows Connecticut programs are most successful in terms of gainful-employment compliance, and Alabama programs have the worst record.

Students should look closely at programs in the following three fields that had the worst performance record for student success: Homeland Security/Law Enforcement, Visual and Performing Arts, and Communications Technologies.

The initiative was an effort by AIR to help translate the massive amount of data released by the Education Department in a user-friendly format.

"Our tool scans the wealth of statistical data released by the U.S. Department of Education and presents it in a handy, easy to understand way," said Mark Schneider, an AIR vice president and former commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, in a press statement. "Our goal is to inform public understanding and policymaking in this high-stakes process. Programs that do not reach minimum thresholds will, over time, be subject to penalties, including loss of eligibility for federal funding."

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