President Obama has committed the nation to the goal of producing the world’s highest proportion of college graduates by 2020. Achieving that objective will necessitate substantial increases in degree completion rates, which are now less than 60 percent for students enrolled in four-year colleges in the United States.
On September 16, the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings hosted an event to discuss Crossing the Finish Line (Princeton University Press, October 2009), which examines degree attainment at America’s public universities. Authors William Bowen, Matthew Chingos and Michael McPherson have assembled and explored a large new database on variables affecting college completion at America’s flagship state universities and in four state university systems.
The authors presented surprising and important results including the role of high school grades vs. SAT/ACT scores in predicting degree completion; the extent to which minority and low-income students enroll in institutions that are matched to their academic abilities; and when students are most likely to drop out of college. They were joined for a panel discussion by White House Council of Economic Advisers Member Cecilia Rouse and American Counsel on Education President Molly Corbett Broad.
After the program, panelists took audience questions.