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Barton vs Cohort
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Dear Editor,
The headline story that ran in the Sept. 8, issue of the Tribune titled “College responds to WalletHub survey” did not paint a clear picture. The WalletHub article would only be relevant and useful if all community colleges shared the same mission with the same programs, geographic area and demographics of the local populace, etc. The list and article is highly irrelevant and only stands to unnecessarily harm one of our community’s most valuable assets, Barton Community College.
According to the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCSSE), which issues the survey that manipulated to rank 670 community colleges, “The article includes multiple errors of fact and misuses of survey data... A larger issue is that the reporter uses CCSSE benchmark data from different years as if the data were equivalent and directly comparable. This is simply not mathematically or statistically correct...”
This is just one excerpt from a lengthy public statement challenging the list’s credibility. It should have been enough to warrant dismissal of the story completely. It is disappointing that the Tribune elected to publish with such minimal context, listing the results of the ranking on the front page, while leaving critical information on an inside page. The public is encouraged to visit to view the rest of the statement.
Further, the metrics these studies choose to use don’t necessarily match Barton’s goals and purpose. Each community college has different circumstances and must be flexible to the needs of its local community and set goals accordingly, which makes it hard to really compare all colleges apples-to-apples in terms of quality, which is why the only lists or rankings relevant are growth rate, size and other general measurements.
CCSSE does offer comparisons, but it does so within the context of cohort colleges, or colleges in a similar situation in terms of students served.
The survey data Barton uses to measure progress reveals a very different message about the health of the college. The CCSSE data shows that Barton scores higher than comparable medium size colleges.
In addition, the spring 2015 graduation survey reveals nearly 90 percent of the student body that participated in the survey rated Barton’s departments or services as “rewarding” or “good.”
Our remediation efforts are innovative and progressive, and have become the envy of other colleges in the state and beyond.
In conclusion, the article is inaccurate and unscientific. It portrays Barton in an unnecessarily negative light, and it’s unfortunate the website’s list received additional exposure in the Tribune this week.  
The Barton Board of Trustee’s are very proud of the hard work of the faculty, staff and administration at Barton. Barton is considered a leader among Community Colleges not only in this region but throughout the country. The numerous accomplishments and achievements of our students and programs speak for themselves and paint a much different and more accurate picture than that of the survey or the Tribune’s article.
Mike Johnson, Board Chairman
Barton Community College