The College Dropout Scandal

Seminar | March 23 | 12-1 p.m. | Dwinelle Hall, Academic Innovation Studio Dwinelle 117

 David Kirp, James D. Marver Professor of Public Policy, Goldman School of Public Policy

 Center for Studies in Higher Education

Only 60% of undergraduates enrolled in bachelor's programs graduate in six years; fewer that 40% of students in community colleges graduate or transfer in three years. The scandal — and it really is a scandal — is that most institutions of higher education aren’t using the tools that have been proven to change the equation. It’s not rocket science—schools you may never have heard of, like Georgia State University and Valencia (Florida) Community College, are leading the way.

The rationales are unpersuasive.

Some administrators point a finger at high schools for turning out under-prepared students. Yet while the public education system could doubtlessly improve, this excuse won’t wash, since, among otherwise similar institutions, graduation rates can vary by as many as 20 percentage points. The dropout problem is especially acute for black and Hispanic students and those from less privileged families. Some officials insist that these students are less well-prepared than their classmates. But that explanation also doesn’t fit the facts. Among equally selective schools, similar institutions have very different graduation rates. What’s more, institutions with a similar graduation rate score very differently when it comes to shrinking the achievement gap. Join the conversation, as David Kirp addresses what the dimensions of the college dropout scandal are and what can be done to boost graduation rates and reduce the achievement gap.

 Hosted lunch to follow, 510-643-9212