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Dubious Claim in WSJ Editorial About Laureate

November 8, 2016
 

In an opinion piece alleging that Laureate Education may have been spared from the Obama administration's crackdown on for-profit higher education because of its ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, The Wall Street Journal's editorial board noted that information about Laureate's Walden University is missing in the relatively new federal College Scorecard.

"Laureate is also a rare major for-profit college in the U.S. that has been spared from President Obama’s war on the industry," the article said. "Laureate may have an impeccable compliance record and provide a world-class education. But it’s hard to know since the Obama administration’s College Scorecard doesn’t include a graduation rate for Laureate’s largest U.S. college, the online Walden University, which makes up the majority of its U.S. enrollment."

Walden's graduation rate is not included in the U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) because of a mundane reason: the federal database's graduation rate tracks only first-time, full-time undergraduates, and Walden lacks enough students who fit that profile to generate a meaningful rate. The Journal editorial itself mentions Walden's first-time, full-time issue, citing a department spokesperson.

The university is heavily tilted toward graduate students, who comprise more than 80 percent of Walden's overall enrollment. And roughly 85 percent of the university's undergraduates are at least 25 years old, meaning many likely are not first-time college students. That's partially because Walden's undergraduate academic programs until recently were focused on degree completion for returning college students.

The Education Department's College Navigator, the companion to the College Scorecard, explains Walden's lack of a federal graduation rate. "Data reported in the IPEDS Graduation Rate survey is based on a cohort of first-time, full-time undergraduates," a footnote in the entry says. "Undergraduate students enrolled at Walden University do not typically fall into this group."

 
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