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(West Plains) – Missouri State University-West Plains has been ranked sixth in the nation in the Best Community Colleges category of the 2013 Washington Monthly College Rankings.

Editors of the Washington, D.C.-based publication released their rankings on Monday, August 26. The rankings, which also are offered for national universities and liberal arts colleges, are designed to recognize colleges that act on behalf of the “true public interest” by offering a quality, affordable education to all students, not just an elite few.

The magazine began publishing its annual rankings eight years ago, according to their website.

Chancellor Drew Bennett says that the ranking is a great way to start off the school year of the college’s 50th anniversary, and that he believes it’s important that people in the region have access to one of the best colleges in the country.

Editors at Washington Monthly based their rankings for community colleges on two sources of information: The Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) and the U.S. Department of Education measures of student retention and completion.

The CCSSE survey, which is given to a representative sample of students at many of the nation’s community colleges, is comprised of over 100 questions on a range of topics, including teaching practices, student workload, interaction with faculty, and student support. The CCSSE combines the results into aggregate “benchmark” scores in five categories: Active and Collaborative Learning, Student Effort, Academic Challenge, Student-Faculty Interaction, and Support for Learners.

These benchmark scores comprise five-eighths of each college’s ranking. The remaining three-eighths come from data compiled annually by the National Center for Education Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education. These include statistics for first-year retention rate; the percentage of first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students who graduate or transfer within three years of enrolling; and the ratio of all degrees awarded during a given academic year to the number of full-time equivalent students enrolled.

For more information about Washington Monthly’s annual rankings, visit

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