Washington, D.C. —U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper, Mitt Romney, and John Barrasso today introduced the Graduation Reporting for Accuracy and Decision-Making (GRAD) Act, bipartisan legislation that would improve transparency and inform the decision-making of prospective students by ensuring the reporting of graduation rates accurately reflect the success of community colleges. Text of the legislation can be found here.
The Higher Education Act (HEA) requires the Department of Education to report institutions’ graduation rates for full-time, first-time students. Colleges report these numbers to the federal government. However, the current practice excludes millions of nontraditional students from being reflected in this data. The GRAD Act would modify existing reporting requirements to better reflect these diverse populations.
“Not everyone attends college full-time nor finishes in four years. The GRAD Act will give us a more accurate picture of students who follow non-traditional pathways and how we can help further their education,” said Hickenlooper.
“Schools like Snow College and Salt Lake Community College have students enrolled from all walks of life—from the first in their family to go to college, to veterans, to single parents,” said Romney. “Current reporting requirements fall short in reflecting community colleges’ unique make-up of students, and every year students who receive degrees are classified as ‘drop-outs’ by the federal government. Our bill will fix this problem and ensure that the government more accurately measures success at community colleges in Utah and across the country.”
“Wyoming is fortunate to have seven wonderful community colleges. They deserve to have all of their students, traditional or non-traditional, accurately accounted for in graduation rates,” said Barrasso. “The GRAD Act will make sure prospective students have the most up-to-date information about graduation rates before choosing the best school for them.”
“Community colleges enthusiastically support the GRAD Act. This overdue legislation will update the Higher Education Act and help to provide a more accurate picture of community college student achievement. The current metrics are designed to reflect traditional college attendance patterns that community college students do not always follow. The GRAD Act also reflects community colleges’ own Voluntary Framework of Accountability metrics, which hundreds of institutions use to foster public accountability and institutional improvement. Higher education would be well served by enactment of this legislation,” said Walter G. Bumphus, Ph.D., President and CEO, American Association of Community Colleges.
“As open access institutions, Colorado’s community colleges serve a diverse group of students, including adult learners, working parents, employees and employers, caregivers, and others whose circumstances result in a longer road to completion. We fully support a 6-year graduation public reporting standard because it better reflects students’ lived reality and accurately captures our colleges’ transformative impact on students and their families,” said Dr. Joseph A Garcia, President, Colorado Community College System.