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Critics Say College Graduation Rates Don’t Tell the Whole Story

Pushing public colleges and universities to increase graduation rates has become a key objective for President Obama and California Gov. Jerry Brown, among others, as they seek to hold higher education institutions more accountable.

Encouraging students to get their degrees in four years rather than five or six — and, for community college students, in two years rather than three or four — will not only reduce tuition bills but free space for more students to enroll, many of these advocates say.

But a growing chorus of opposition argues that graduation rates by themselves may not accurately measure campus performance and that using the rates to determine allocation of federal and state funds would be especially troublesome.