One of the few real measures of effectiveness Americans have to gauge colleges is the gradation rate. The standard measure used for bachelor’s degree completion is graduation within six years of starting school, or 150 percent of normal time. Six years is a damn long time to earn a four year degree; if a student hasn’t graduated within six years he probably never will. But some argue that a longer measure would be more illustrative because it would capture virtually everyone who finished.

Well not so much, according to a report issued by the National Center for Education Statistics.

The study finds that while an eight-year graduation rate measure would show a little more college completion, it wouldn’t really matter that much.

At public, four-year colleges, the gain from moving to an eight-year college graduation rate measure would work out to a mere 4 percentage points.

If a six-year measure says a school’s graduation rate is low, an eight-year measure won’t help much.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer