Making Sense of a Looking Glass World
Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research
International and Comparative Education
As the Walrus in Lewis Carroll's knows, it is the sorting out that matters most. And in colleges and universities, just as in oysters, those of the largest size and most prestige will almost certainly insist on being grouped together, no matter what the consequences. Working with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation we have set for ourselves the task of doing just that—using data drawn from the U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to sort American colleges and universities into recognizable clusters that or segments that facilitate the making of comparisons within groups of similar institutions. No less, we seek a set of indices or measures that document the performance of these institutions in terms of access and completions. And to accomplish this latter task, we seek a reasonable means of describing each institution's undergraduate student body along four gauges of diversity: economic, race and ethnicity, age, and geography.