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Albany School Is U.S. #1 'Value-Added' College

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The Capital Region is home to the top-ranked school in the nation, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution that measures the impact of colleges on their students’ outcomes.

More than 3,000 two-and four-year colleges across the U.S. are ranked in the study. Each school is assigned a "value-added" score based on the earnings of their alumni. Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences received a "100" — the highest possible score.

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Jonathan Rothwell is a fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings. His research focuses on labor market economics, social mobility, access to education, and the sources of economic growth.

Study author Jonathan Rothwell is a fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings.   "One of the motivations for doing this research was to help college leaders and policy makers better understand which institutions are best preparing success after they graduate or after they leave the college. A second part of this is to increase the transparency that consumers have when it comes to deciding where to go to college and what to study."

Greg Dewey is the president of Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.    "What prompted this was the Obama administration set up something called a 'college scorecard' to help parents evaluate the value of colleges and that just went live about six weeks ago. And then these folks from Brookings institute went in and looked at that website set up by the department of education and started analyzing the data. So this is really the first time we have some good quality data to really assess the value-added in a college education. And it's really kind of a complicated business because there are so many different levels of schools and different socio-economic backgrounds that people are coming from. It's a tricky business. But the Brookings folks are trying to come up with these metrics that allow you to sort through all of the complexities of this. So,, I would say yes, this is a very important thing and obviously very gratifying for us to be number one in the nation, I mean that was completely unexpected from us, but we're obviously very pleased at that result."

Rothwell cautions one thing to keep in mind is there are limitations with any study of college rankings, but that caveat aside, the Brookings report will help parents, policymakers and students understand which colleges are generating the highest economic contributions to the students who attend those schools.   "And that benefit, if you like, comes through things like the type of curriculum the school offers, the skills it teaches, the fields that it prepares students for, the graduation rate of the school, the qualities of the teachers. We weren't able to totally measure all those things precisely, but we were able to build that into our model and found that those factors contribute a great deal to the success of students. So if you go to our website, you can rank schools or you can see our ranking of what we call the value-added of a particular institution."

Rothwell defines value-added as the difference between what you'd expect the alumni to earn and what they actually earn. Expected earnings are calculated by looking at characteristics of the students going into the school and some aspects of where the school is located, whether it is in a high cost of living area or not.    "What we found is that schools like the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Georgetown University, Harvey Mudd Colleges, MIT, SUNY Maritime College, those schools generated very high earnings for their alumni, must higher than you'd expect, even considering the test scores of their students and how much family income their parents have."

The rankings appear in a report titled, “Using earnings data to rank colleges: A value-added approach updated with College Scorecard data,” which was published by Brookings on October 29.

Study Materials

President Dewey adds,  "This gives us national publicity. It's an affirmation of the quality of not only the institution, but also the value of the career path that our students are on. So I would anticipate that this could have quite a bit of impact."
Dewey believes while study benefits ACPHS, it gives the entire Capital Region, and its many colleges, a boost.

  • Founded in 1881, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is a private, independent institution with a long tradition of academic and research excellence. The College is committed to educating the next generation of leaders in the health care professions and translating scientific discoveries into therapies that benefit humankind. In addition to its doctor of pharmacy program, ACPHS offers six bachelor’s programs and five graduate programs in the health sciences. The College’s main campus is located in Albany, New York; its satellite campus is in Colchester, Vermont.
Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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