Two Houston universities made Washington Monthly's rankings of 4-year public and private colleges with the worst graduation rates. Texas Southern was 18th on the list, with a graduation rate of 13 percent. The University of Houston Downtown was 26th, with a 14-percent rate. Ben Miller is a policy analyst with Education Sector, a Washington-DC-based think tank. He authored the "College Dropout Factories" story in Washington Monthly.
"When you have a school that really kind of can't do the basic things right, like handle financial aid and other things
that sort of fall into the category of making the trains run on time, then it's really going to be hard for a student to graduate just because you're not going to be able to give them the kind of support that they need."
The survey doesn't take into account students who transfer to other schools before they graduate, a factor in UH-Downtown's low graduation rates. Miller says his research indicates some schools are simply more committed to students than others.
"You can look at schools that take in students with roughly the same academic preparation and one might graduate that student at a 37-percent rate and the other one might do it at a 56-percent rate and at that point you're really talking about schools that are really making a difference for the student."
Miller says the public cares a great deal about how students do in their K-12 education.
"But the instant they get into college it's almost like they're adults and so how they do is now only their responsibility and so if that student basically failed out their freshman year, well, what do you expect, it's on them. I think it really is time to start asking question about what we expect of our institutions."
To view the complete list of universities on the "dropout list," visit the Washington Monthly's website.