Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

The Top 100: Interpreting the Data

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

The Top 100: Interpreting the Data

Article excerpt

The institutions appearing in the published lists are ranked according to the total number of degrees awarded to minority students across all disciplines and in specific disciplines.

In our 10th consecutive annual analysis of the "Top 100," we bring you the same simple but compelling ranking of higher education data: listings of the institutions that confer the most postsecondary degrees to students of color. As always, we acknowledge up front the limits of such rankings. They do not reveal anything about the quality of education received by the minority degree recipients. But they do show which institutions contributed most to the conferral of more than a quarter million baccalaureate degrees to students of color.

There are two notable differences in this year's issue. First, the data are more current than in prior years. Thanks to advances in data collection at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), we are able to bring you the preliminary data from the 1999-2000 academic year. Unfortunately, this progress comes at a cost. When NCES introduced the much faster Web-based data collection methods for this survey, they were still in the middle of collecting and verifying data from the prior year's (1998-1999) paper-based survey. The 1999-2000 collection quickly overtook the prior year collection and NCES decided to focus on the more recent year. As a resuit, the 1998-1999 is far too incomplete to consider for use in examining trends over time. This has two implications for the current analysis. First, we do not show the prior year total and percent change from prior year in the individual lists. Second, we have to skip a year when reviewing aggregate trends.

A second difference in the listings this year is the expansion of the "reporting universe." In prior years, the lists included all institutions that were accredited at the college level by an agency or association recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, that operate within the 50 states or the District of Columbia. While we maintain the same geographic domain (50 states and D.C.), we have adopted a more inclusive institutional selection to match the federal reporting practices. We now include all institutions that are eligible for federal financial aid funds under Title IV legislation. This is a slightly larger population than considered in prior years.

As in prior years, we are using "preliminary" data for these lists. In fact, NCES has not finalized any degree completions data since 19961997. Data for the individual institutions included in the 1999-2000 preliminary file are considered complete and accurate. However, the file does not have data for some institutions. In our experience, the preliminary data files include complete and accurate data for most four-year colleges and universities.

The institutions appearing in the published lists are ranked according to the total number of degrees awarded to minority students across all disciplines and in specific disciplines. The lists include a breakdown of 1999-2000 graduates by gender. The final column of the lists shows a percentage that indicates how the number of the minority category degree recipients compares to all degree recipients at that institution within that discipline. For example, in the listing of baccalaureates conferred to African Americans in business and management, the percent indicates the proportion of all business and management baccalaureate degree recipients at that institution who were African American.

SOURCE OF DATA

The data for this study come from the U.S. Department of Education. It is collected through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) program completers survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The survey requests data on the number of degrees and other formal awards conferred in academic, vocational and continuing professional education programs. Institutions report their data accordingto the Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) codes developed by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES). …

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