NCAN Releases Benchmarking Project Round 3 Results

September 7, 2016

By Bill DeBaun, Director of Data and Evaluation

Students served by NCAN members are still enrolling at rates greatly exceeding their peers, but completion rates for the most recent class may have dipped due to the Great Recession. These are two of the findings released today in NCAN’s third annual “Closing the Graduation Gap” national benchmarking report. These findings show both the progress college access and success programs are making toward their critical missions and the gains that remain to be achieved.

This report is a collaboration of NCAN members and the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC) to develop meaningful metrics about the outcomes of students served by college access and success programs. This year’s report offers even more insights into the performance of NCAN member-served students.

Using data collected from 73 NCAN member organizations (up from 42 last year and 24 two years ago), the NSCRC calculated enrollment rates and graduation rates for the high school classes of 2009, 2010, and 2011 and an enrollment rate for the high school class of 2015. These metrics represent the key milestones of postsecondary access and success that anchor NCAN’s Common Measures. The increase in the number of participating organizations reflects the growing importance placed on the use of data by NCAN members. Member organizations increasingly collect and analyze data to identify strengths and weaknesses in service provision, increase the number of students served, and evaluate program impact.

Overall, 69.7 percent of member-served students in the class of 2015 enrolled in college following high school graduation. This exceeded the national enrollment rate estimate published by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Enrollment rates of Black and Hispanic students served by NCAN members from the class of 2015 exceeded national comparisons. Similarly, enrollment rates for students served by NCAN members from the classes of 2013 (65%) and 2014 (64%) were also comparable to national estimates and exceeded the enrollment rates of students from low-income high schools.

This year’s Benchmarking Report found that the six-year graduation rate of students served by NCAN members in the class of 2009 (51.3%) fell short of the overall National Student Clearinghouse benchmark of 58.6% for students nationally who enrolled in postsecondary education within one year of graduating high school. Although this is discouraging, the Great Recession may have played a role in this lower completion rate for member-served students. A struggling economy swelled attendance on college campuses at a time when institutions were least prepared to accept more students because of state disinvestments in higher education. Additionally, as the economy recovered and added jobs, students on the margin may have been drawn from postsecondary education into the workforce.

Once again, this year’s report goes in-depth and provides enrollment and completion rates for students by year, gender, race/ethnicity, Hispanic heritage, and first-generation status. Through the next year, NCAN will release additional analyses of this benchmarking data, including data on persistence, outcomes by program-level characteristics, and an analysis of the interventions received by various student groups and whether certain interventions, or combinations of interventions, are more strongly associated with enrollment or completion than others.

Recruitment for the fourth round of the Benchmarking Project has already commenced. Interested NCAN members should contact Director of Data and Evaluation Bill DeBaun to signal their interest in participating or to ask any related questions.

There is intrinsic value to examining our effectiveness. A willingness to challenge our assumptions about how our field is doing is critical for improving our performance and expanding services to the many low-income, first-generation students around the country who need those services. Each year, NCAN members change the lives of over two million students by helping them to access and complete a postsecondary education. The Benchmarking Project’s third round continues to demonstrate the value and promise of NCAN’s member programs and provide new insights for the field.

NCAN would like to thank the Kresge Foundation and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation for their continued invaluable support in pursuing and completing this report.

If you would like to help NCAN share the news about the benchmarking report via Twitter, please do so using the tweets below!

Third annual report measuring the enrollment & graduation rates of NCAN-served students released

NCAN students' enrollment rates are comparable to their higher-income peers. Read more in NCAN’s 3rd benchmarking report


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