Ever since 2010, the for-profit education industry has been under fire. Following an undercover investigation by the Government Accountability Office, the Department of Education has tightened the strings on these schools that rely overwhelmingly on government funding to turn a profit.

As a result, shares of for-profit educators have plunged. Apollo (NASDAQ:APOL), parent company of The University of Phoenix and the largest industry player, hasn't been exempt from that trend.

Ever since March of last year, however, several for-profit educators have seen their shares skyrocket. Apollo's shares are up more than 80%, Bridgepoint Education's (NYSE:BPI) are up more than 70%, andĀ Education ManagementĀ (NASDAQOTH:EDMC) has seen its shares rise an astounding 180%.

But does this mean things are really getting better in the industry? In the video below, Motley Fool contributor Brian Stoffel explains what metrics long-term investors should really be paying attention to before investing in these companies.

Fool contributor Brian Stoffel has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bridgepoint Education. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.