Aspen Institute's selection of America's 120 "best" community colleges draws criticism over how schools were chosen
The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program released a list of what it considers the 120 "best" community colleges in the country Monday, kicking off a multistep, data-driven process for identifying a single institution to receive its $1 million award for "community college excellence."
And though prize officials say they are simply trying to spotlight institutions that are successful in helping students earn college credentials, to try to help others learn from their methods, critics argue that the selection process unfairly attempts to rank and compare community colleges using data systems that are inadequate to the task.
The Aspen Prize, which was introduced at last year's White House Summit on Community Colleges, attempts "to recognize community colleges with outstanding academic and workforce outcomes in both absolute performance and improvements over time." Prize officials hope that by "focusing on student success and lifting up models that work," they will be able to "honor excellence, stimulate innovation and create benchmarks for measuring progress."