Beware of ‘chasing stats’

Gaps in graduation rates should lead to more than superficial changes.

Editorial board

Last Thursday, the Board of Regents discussed the issue of four-year graduation rates and is shining light on the disparity between the College of Education and Human Development and the rest of the University of Minnesota.

With only 35 percent of CEHDâÄôs students graduating in four years, they are clearly behind the rest of the colleges, most of which are near or have met the 60 percent goals established in 2005. While it is undoubtedly necessary to address the disparity between the more ethnically diverse CEHD and other colleges, the Board of Regents needs to be careful of âÄúchasing statistics.âÄù There is an enormous gap in the graduation rates of students of different ethnicities. If University officials are too driven by statistics, it is conceivable that they could try to superficially improve average graduation rates by making the University less accessible to minorities.

As a land-grant institution, the UniversityâÄôs main purpose is to educate all Minnesotans who have the desire to learn. With MinnesotaâÄôs huge gap in high school graduation rates between white students and minorities and the second-highest disparity of unemployment between blacks and whites nationally, closing the door on those who are less likely to graduate in four years for the sake of statistics is the absolute wrong approach to take.

There are two paths to take: making the University âÄúlook goodâÄù by improving its statistics or actually finding solutions at the roots of its problems. The Board of Regents has done a good job of identifying shortcomings and would do well to work in the best interest of its students rather than the interest of its public statistics.