Attrition, meaning shrinking, is a commonly used term in college. Student attrition typically refers to the number of students who do not complete their program of studies. These “dropouts” are viewed as failures by the schools and reduce the “graduation rate” typically measured by everyone from the schools themselves, to the accrediting agencies to the national publications (e.g., U.S. News & World Report).The dropout rate at American universities is about 50% for traditional students and 60% for online learners. (National Dialog on Student Retention, 2008) Validity and Reliability As any statistician or graduate student can tell you a statistic is meaningful only when it satisfies two important criteria: Validity (both “construct” and “content”), and Reliability. Validity, the most critical of the two, simply means that the test “measures what it purports (is supposed) to measure”. And Reliability means that it consistently does this over time. How valid is this measure? With attrition, there are several concerns. If the retention rate is calculated programmaticaly, it fails to account for inter-program transfers. If it is applied to the institution as a whole, it still has problems. For example, do we really want to measure if a student completes their education at a particular institution, or should… Read full this story
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