From the issue dated December 8, 2000
The following are the five categories in which the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education awarded letter grades to the states, and explanations of how the center arrived at its grades.
Preparation: Measured by the percentage of 18-to-24-year-olds with a high-school credential; percentage of high-school students who have taken upper-level math and science courses; percentage of eighth-grade students who have taken algebra and scored at or above "proficient" on national assessment examinations in math, reading, and writing; percentage of low-income eighth-grade students who scored at or above "proficient" on national assessment examinations in math; number of scores in the top 20 percent on the SAT or ACT per 1,000 high-school graduates; and number of scores that are 3 or higher on Advanced Placement subject tests per 1,000 high-school juniors and seniors.
Participation: Measured by percentage of high-school freshmen who enroll in college in any state within four years; percentage of 18-to-24-year-olds enrolled in college in the state; and percentage of 25-to-44-year-olds enrolled part time in some type of postsecondary education.
Affordability: Measured by the percentage of a family's income needed to pay for college expenses minus financial aid at both two-and four-year colleges; percentage of state grants awarded to low-income families compared with federal Pell grants given to low-income families in the state; share of income that poorest families need to pay for tuition at lowest-priced colleges in the state; and average loan amount that students borrow each year.
Completion: Measured by the percentage of first-year students who return for their second year; percentage of first-time, full-time students completing a bachelor's degree within five years; and the number of certificates, degrees, and diplomas awarded at all colleges per 100 undergraduate students.
Benefits: Measured by the percentage of 25-to-65-year-olds with a bachelor's degree or higher; percentage difference in total personal income between those with a bachelor's degree and those without a bachelor's degree; percentage of eligible residents voting in the 1996 and 1998 national elections; percentage of residents who declare charitable gifts among those who itemize their federal income taxes; and percentage of adults demonstrating high literacy skills.