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Efficiency Measure Performance Results: 2003-04

Why is the U.S. Department of Education calculating efficiency measures?

The performance of every federal program is assessed to make sure it is working well for the American people. The assessment uses a standard questionnaire called the Program Assessment Rating Tool, or PART, for short. The PART asks approximately 25 important, yet common sense, questions about a program's performance and management. One of these questions asks whether the program demonstrates improved efficiencies or cost effectiveness in achieving program goals each year. To be able to respond to this question, the Department has begun computing program and project-level measures of cost per successful outcome as one way of measuring improvements in program efficiency over time.

What is the efficiency measure for TRIO SSS?

For TRIO Student Support Services' (SSS) projects, the efficiency measure is the cost per successful outcome, which is calculated by dividing the funding obligated to a project for a given budget period by the total number of students the project reported as transferring to another institution, graduating with a degree or certificate, or continuing at the same institution.

How has the U.S. Department of Education calculated the TRIO SSS project-level efficiency measures for 2003-04?

Three data sources were used for the efficiency measure analysis: program records, the 2003-04 SSS Annual Performance Reports (APRs), and the U.S. Department of Education's (Department) National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Program Records: Department program staff provided the funding obligated to each grantee for the 2003-04 project year (fiscal year 2003) from the Department's Grants Administration and Payment System. The data represent the total funding and were used to calculate cost per student served and cost per successful outcome.

  • 2003-04 SSS APRs: Individual student data provided in Section V of the 2003-04 APRs were used to calculate the number of students served, the cost per student served, the number of successful outcomes, the cost per successful outcome, and the success rate during the 2003-04 reporting year. The number of students served by each grantee was calculated using data grantees provided in field #14, "Participant Status," and is the number of new participants (option 1) and continuing participants (option 2). The number of successful outcomes used data grantees provided in field #19, "End of Year Enrollment Status." In field #19, the number of students who transferred to another institution, graduated with a degree or certificate, or continued at the same institution (options seven through 13, inclusive) were considered successful outcomes for this analysis.

  • IPEDS: Data on institutional characteristics came primarily from IPEDS, which can be found at

A grantee-level database was then created, and the completeness of the data was assessed. A total of 60 SSS grants were excluded from the database and listed in Grants Not Included for one of the following reasons:

  • The project received $1 or less in funding for direct student services for the 2003-04 project year because of carryover funds remaining from the preceding year (four grants);
  • More than 15 percent of the new and continuing participants had an end-of-year enrollment status reported as unknown (49 grants);
  • The project did not report any successful outcomes for the 2003-04 performance period, field #19 of Section V of the APR (three grants); or
  • The project did not submit individual participant data (Section V of the APR), or the data were not submitted in a useable format (four grants).

After excluding the 60 grants, project-level efficiency measures were calculated for the remaining 876 grants. The results are displayed in the Grantee Efficiency Analysis (MS Excel 255K). Projects are listed alphabetically by the institution’s name. A detailed explanation for each column can be obtained in the Glossary tab within the Grantee Efficiency Analysis. For some of these grants (marked with an asterisk (*)), the success rate and cost per successful outcome were calculated using adjusted values for the number of successful outcomes and total funding. In these instances, the number of students served was reduced by the number of students whose end of year enrollment status was unknown (option 00 in field #19 of the APR). The total funding was reduced by the percentage of students whose end of year enrollment status was unknown. The success rate is the number of successful outcomes divided by the adjusted number of students served. The cost per successful outcome is the adjusted total funding divided by the number of successful outcomes. Note: The adjusted total funding and adjusted number of students served are not displayed.

Project Directors can compare their performance results to those of other projects with similar characteristics by using the Summary Efficiency Analysis (MS Excel 63K). The Summary Efficiency Analysis categorizes all included SSS projects according to a variety of characteristics, such as total funding, cost per student served, geographic region, or degree of urbanization. A detailed explanation for each column can be obtained in the Glossary tab within the Summary Efficiency Analysis.

In reviewing these data, consider that some institutions might have 100 percent success rates in the presence of relatively high levels of missing (coded "unknown") data. It is simply not known what the success rate for the institution's SSS project would be if complete information were available; the rate presented is that given on the basis of the known available information. Also, lower costs per successful outcome cannot be considered in isolation: at the very least, efficiencies need to take into account success rates, and can be compared between institutions only by taking into account differences in services offered or student characteristics.

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| Summary Efficiency Analysis (MS Excel 63K) |
| Grantee Efficiency Analysis (MS Excel 255K) |
| Grants Not Calculated | IPEDS |

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Last Modified: 11/06/2006