About Us

College MeasuresTM is a partnership between the American Institutes for Research and Optimity Advisors, focused on using data to drive improvement in higher education outcomes in the United States.  We have created this partnership because we are deeply concerned about improving higher education in the United States, and we believe that important underlying data is underexposed and underutilized by students, parents, policymakers, and even by institutions themselves.

Troubling Outcomes

Far too many students enroll in college but never complete their education. On average, less than 60% of students seeking four-year bachelor degrees graduate within six years. Graduation rates for black and Hispanic students are far lower. Among students seeking associate degrees at community colleges, less than one-fourth earn these degrees within three years – with only about 14% of black students and 18% of Hispanic students doing so.

The human side of this failure is significant. The student who drops out after a year or two of college will benefit only slightly – at least economically – from having attended college but not having earned a degree. They will earn, on average, only 5% to 10% more than peers who never attended college. Many of these students will take on thousands of dollars of student loan debt which will be a significant financial burden for years to come. In addition to these personal costs, taxpayers spend billions of dollars each year subsidizing the education of students who fail to graduate and who, too often, don’t even make it through their first year of college.

Performance Measurement and Management

Stakeholders in the US higher education system – from students to administrators to legislators to employers - need to be able to accurately measure performance, understand what that performance means to them, and act upon the information presented. However, measuring and managing performance for colleges is not straight-forward. Important questions have to be addressed. What are the appropriate measures of performance? What data exist to support those measures? For any particular college, what are appropriate performance targets? Who should be held accountable for achieving those targets, by whom, and how?

Our goal is to provide stakeholders with tools they can use to analyze the performance of their college or system, and serve as the basis for productive discussions about outcomes relative to the dollars being spent to achieve those outcomes.

Out of the Warehouse, into the Storefront

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent creating data warehouses that contain the information needed to assess the performance of our higher education system.  These warehouses exist at the school, state and national levels, and hold a powerful amount of information that needs to be presented in ways that are compelling to users.  Our goal is to move the information out of these data warehouses and into "data storefronts" in which performance metrics will be placed into the public square, allowing students, their families, and policy makers to get much better measures of the rate of return on their investment in higher education programs and institutions.

Our Team

Mark Schneider, President


Mark is president of College MeasuresTM, as well as a vice president at American Institutes for Research, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Distinguished Professor (emeritus) from the State University of New York, Stony Brook. He served as the U.S. Commissioner of Education Statistics (National Center for Education Statistics) from 2005–08.