What's New in Measuring Up 2008

Measuring Change Over Time

As in previous editions, the Change Over Time arrows in Measuring Up 2008 compare each state’s current performance with its own previous performance in the 1990s. This year, however, a state’s Change Over Time is determined by its improvement or decline in performance on a key indicator in each performance category. The key indicators were selected because they are broad gauges for understanding state success in the performance areas. The key indicators are:

  • Preparation: Percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds with a high school credential (1990 to 2006)
  • Participation: Percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in college (1991 to 2007)
  • Affordability: Percentage of income (average of all income groups) needed to pay for college expenses at public four-year institutions (1999-2007)
  • Completion: Certificates and degrees awarded per 1,000 state residents (age 18-44) without a college degree (1992 to 2007)
  • Benefits: Percentage of 25- to 64-year-olds with a bachelor’s degree or higher (1990 to 2006)

States receive either an “up” or a “down” arrow in each performance area. An “up” arrow indicates that the state has increased or remained stable on the key indicator in the category; a “down” arrow indicates that the state has declined on the key indicator in the category. The National Center does not establish benchmarks for improvement; however, the Change Over Time performance of the top states is depicted graphically on the second page of each state’s summary report card. Many states, but not all, have improved on these key indicators.  Affordability is different from the other categories in that lower percentages indicate higher performance.

Improvements in Data

A number of new data sources are used for Measuring Up 2008 because the new data provide states with a more comprehensive portrayal of their performance.

This year, the National Center replaced the data derived from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) with the American Community Survey (ACS), which is also administered by the Census Bureau. The ACS was expanded to a sample size of three million households in 2005 and will eventually replace the long survey form of the decennial census. It has much larger sample sizes than the CPS, making it a valuable resource for state data. As a result of this change, comparing results from previous years is no longer possible for all of the indicators that were based on the CPS. The indicators affected include: the percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds with a high school credential; the percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in higher education; the percentage of 25- to 49-year-olds enrolled in higher education; certificates and degrees awarded per 1,000 state residents (age 18-44) without a college degree; and the percentage of the population with either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree. The national advisory board for Measuring Up and the National Center have concluded that, compared with the CPS data, the new data provide states with a more comprehensive portrayal of their performance. (For more information, please see the Technical Guide for Measuring Up 2008.

In addition, Measuring Up 2008 includes two new indicators, one in Completion and one in Benefits. In the Completion category, the new indicator measures the number of certificates and degrees awarded in relation to the number of state residents (ages 18 to 44) without a college degree. In the Benefits category, the new indicator identifies the percentage of adults who have earned an associate’s degree, which parallels an existing indicator identifying the percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree.