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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Who’s #1 in graduating low-income students?

Georgia State ranks first in the nation in awarding degrees to African-Americans. Photo: Georgia State University

College rankings should reward schools that help disadvantaged students graduate and boost their social mobility, writes Bridget Burns, executive director of the University Innovation Alliance in the Washington Post. Exclusivity is not the mark of educational excellence.

Georgia State University improved advising and tutoring to help low-income and minority students graduate with a bachelor’s degree, writes Burns. The effort “eliminated income and racial gaps in graduation rates while raising their overall graduation rate by 23 percentage points.”

What was the result? In 2014 the school dropped more than 20 places in the next edition of the U.S. News & World Report annual rankings. . . . in an era where colleges are often valued more for the number of students that they turn away, Georgia State’s decision to admit more students with lower SAT scores outweighed the positives of helping these students graduate.

Burns calls for rankings that that showcase universities that admit significant numbers of low-income students, narrow achievement gaps and raise graduation rates. “We have to find ways to deliver high-quality degrees at the scale our country needs, which means more emphasis on large universities and less on the Ivies,” she writes.

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