Metrics FAQ with Joe Cortright
What is the base year and final year for the competition?
JC: 2009-2010 is the base year and 2012-2013 is the final year.
It is clear that the measure for the prize is the number of degrees GRANTED. Does it matter where individuals end up living?
JC: No. While we believe talent retention is critical, it is not a measure for the Prize. This competition is focused solely on talent development.
Where can cities locate their IPEDS scores?
Are online degrees counted by the graduate's location or the University's location? For example, if a student lives in an eligible city and receives a degree from the University of Phoenix, does the eligible city get to "count" this degree, even though the degree-granting institution is not in the eligible city?
JC: If the institution does not report the degrees as awarded in the metro, we will not be able to count the degrees.
As a reverse example: If a university is located in an eligible city, and offers online degree programs, does the university count all the degrees it confers, regardless of where its online graduates live?
JC: This is more complicated. Insofar as is possible, we will adjust IPEDS data to correct for online degrees conferred to non-residents.
The exact methodology for counting online degrees is still in development. Much depends on the institution and how it accounts for the degrees. For instance, University of Phoenix counts all of its degrees as if they were awarded in Phoenix, AZ, while other online institutions account for degrees awarded at each of their campuses.
Please contact Noël Harmon, National Director of the Talent Dividend, if you have questions about online degree reporting. firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of the eligible cities are in larger regions. Will American Community Survey (ACS) data be limited to Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), or extend further/differently?
JC: The IPEDS and ACS data will be analyzed at the MSA level only.
Are you using ACS 1-year or 3-year estimates?
JC: We used 3-year estimates due to the more reliable data.
Do you know exactly how the Region is defined? MSA?
JC: We are using the metropolitan statistical areas as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB). You can find the definitions here
What happens if/when the definition for an MSA changes between now and 2014 as a result of the 2010 Census?
JC: Typically, the new metro definitions are released 2 or 3 years after the Census, i.e. 2012 or 2013. We cannot expect local constituents to organize their efforts based on future definitions, so we will continue to use the current MSA definitions throughout the competition.
In offering one point per Associates Degree, does the Associates of Applied Science count as an Associates degree?
JC: Yes, all types of Associates degrees will be counted.
Do advanced degrees count the same as bachelors and graduate degrees, i.e. two points?
JC: Yes, bachelors and any advanced degrees will each count as two points.
Why are there point differences between Associates and Bachelor's degrees, but not for graduate and professional degrees? For instance, why is a Master's degree not 3 points and a Doctoral or Professional degree 4 points?
JC: The Prize is to motivate cities and the surrounding metropolitan areas to prioritize post secondary degree attainment. Nearly all of those with an advanced degree also have a BA degree; however, many BAs do not have AA degrees. Our measure is weighted by degrees issued rather than persons. For example, a person who earns an AA followed by a BA, is essentially counted as having received two degrees. Weighting helps alleviate double counting.
Does the prize favor communities with more universities?
JC: Since the prize is based on the greatest increase in the number of degrees awarded per capita, it doesn’t necessarily favor cities with more post secondary institutions. It depends on the capacity of the institutions to increase the number of degrees awarded. For example, if a city's institutions already have 100% completion rates and are at capacity, then it may be difficult to increase degree output in this short period.
Could you please review the calculation again, specifically addressing population fluctuations?
JC: Our key measure is the number of degrees awarded per 1,000 population. This measure was chosen to avoid the problem of giving fast-growing metropolitan areas an automatic advantage over slower growing metropolitan areas. Population is the denominator in the fraction degrees per 1,000 population. If an area's population declines and the number of degrees awarded remains unchanged, the degrees per 1,000 number will increase. (Based on a test run of the data over a similar time period, only one metro area had a positive delta while degrees granted decreased or remained the same.)
Will degrees awarded by institutions across all sectors be counted?
JC: Yes. Postsecondary degrees awarded by private, public and proprietary institutions in each metropolitan area will be counted.
Are certificates counted in any way?
JC: Technical certificates will not receive any points in the competition.