Community College Student Success
Workforce Investments: State Strategies to Preserve Higher-Cost Career Education Programs in Community and Technical Colleges
Addressing the challenge of financing community college career and technical education programs is the focus of a new policy brief by IHELP. This brief examines finance policies and practices in 20 states and identifies five strategies that may help preserve higher-cost CTE/workforce programs: (1) separate technical colleges or system; (2) differential funding formula that takes program costs into account; (3) performance funding that rewards completions and various workforce-related outcomes; (4) differential tuition whereby students pay more for high-cost programs; and (5) differential course fees by which students pay for costs of lab operation and maintenance, specialized equipment, and supplies. This brief is intended as a resource for education leaders and policymakers in California as they work toward realizing the vast potential of the CTE mission.
Metrics, Dollars, and Systems Change: Learning From Washington State's Student Achievement Initiative to Design Effective Postsecondary Performance Funding Policies
This brief, jointly produced by IHELP and the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Columbia University, examines the development and implementation of the Washington State Student Achievement Initiative (SAI), a policy adopted by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges that draws on intermediate measures of student progress to reward colleges for improvements in student achievement. This brief, based on findings from a three-year evaluation, offers lessons for leaders in states looking to design performance funding policies for community colleges. The brief offers recommendations for several design principles for an effective performance funding system including designing a useful and relevant system of performance metrics, linking performance to budgets (baseline funding rather piecemeal funding from allocated funds), and supporting college environmental conditions through more strategic communication and emphasis on institutional research to produce systemic institutional change.
Career Opportunities: Career Technical Education and the College Completion Agenda - Part IV: Aligning Policy with Mission for Better Outcomes
This IHELP report is the culmination of a four-part series on career technical education in the California Community Colleges. The project, funded by The James Irvine Foundation, is aimed at identifying ways that state and system policy can best support the CTE mission so that colleges can be more effective in helping students earn credentials of value in the workplace and helping employers and industries in their regions obtain a skilled workforce. Based on a comprehensive analysis of potential barriers to more effective CTE, researchers offer a set of suggestions for policy changes intended as a resource for the community college system as it continues to work to improve student success. For the complete series on CTE please click here.
Washington State Student Achievement Initiative Policy Study: Final Report
This report, jointly produced by IHELP and the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Columbia University, analyzes the impact of the Washington State Student Achievement Initiative (SAI) on college efforts to improve student outcomes and on student outcomes. SAI, a policy adopted by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, draws on intermediate measures of student progress to reward colleges for improvements in student achievement. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this three-year evaluation includes both data analysis and extensive interviewing of faculty and staff and is intended in part to draw lessons for leaders in other states who are considering adopting performance incentive policies for community colleges. Report findings include that SAI is viewed by the colleges as one force among others pushing them to improve student success, and its intermediate milestone framework as helpful in focusing collective efforts on student progression and in publicly accounting for college performance. The funding mechanism has proved unpopular, however, as SAI funding has come from reallocated base funds rather than as additional funds as originally intended. While larger colleges earn more awards than smaller colleges, there is little evidence that colleges serving more at-risk, low-income students are penalized by the SAI awards method. Consistent with the SAI’s goals, the basic skills metric appears to have encouraged enrollment from traditionally underserved groups.
Career Opportunities: Career Technical Education and the College Completion Agenda – Part III: Promising CTE Policies from Across the States
This IHELP report is the third in the four-part series on career technical education in the California Community Colleges with a goal of identifying necessary changes to state and system policies to improve CTE. This report examines policies in other states that might offer helpful lessons for shaping CTE in California to better meet student and employer needs. It provides examples in the following five policy areas: degree and certificate programs offered; curriculum structure and delivery; high school – community college – workplace pathways; financing CTE – college and student costs; and accountability. Researchers explain how each policy area relates to an effective CTE program and provide brief descriptions of relevant policies in place in other states with endnotes that provide references to further detail on the policies. For the complete series on CTE please click here.
Measuring Institutional Conditions that Support Student Success in the California Community Colleges
This report, prepared by IHELP for the University of California All Campus Consortium on Research for Diversity (UC/ACCORD), looks at the opportunities and challenges in measuring institutional conditions that support student success. The report, part of the Pathways to Postsecondary Success project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, draws from the literature and ongoing research to develop a set of indicators and metrics to assess the institutional conditions related to student success in the California community colleges. The report describes the significant challenges in identifying, defining and measuring indicators of supportive institutional conditions in the community colleges, but offers a list of possible indicators and existing sources of data that could be used as a “starting point” in defining a set that could fairly and accurately capture the conditions at a particular institution.
Policy Brief - Career Opportunities: Career Technical Education and the College Completion Agenda – Parts I and II (summarized)
This IHELP brief is a summary of the first two reports in a series titled Career Opportunities: Career Technical Education and the College Completion Agenda. The first report, titled, Part I – Structure and Funding of Career Technical Education in the California Community Colleges, analyzes the complex organizational structure and funding arrangements for the CTE mission and the closely related economic and workforce development mission. The second report, Part II – Inventory and Analysis of CTE Programs in the California Community Colleges, examines the full set of career-technical certificate and associate degree programs offered by the CCC. Researchers inventory and analyze CTE program offerings across the system as a basis for understanding how well CTE programs are meeting students’ needs to identify, enroll in, and complete programs with real value in today’s labor market. In each report, researchers identify key issues that will need to be addressed as efforts proceed to increase the effectiveness of CTE in the California Community Colleges, and the entire project is guided by a set of criteria, based on a literature review, that characterize an effective CTE mission.
Career Opportunities: Career Technical Education and the College Completion Agenda - Part II: Inventory and Analysis of CTE Programs in the California Community Colleges
This report is the second in the four-part series on career technical education in the California Community Colleges. This report examines the full set of career-technical certificate and associate degree programs offered by the CCC. Researchers inventory and analyze CTE program offerings across the system as a basis for understanding how well the CTE programs are meeting students’ needs to identify, enroll in, and complete programs with real value in today’s labor market. Some of the report findings include: a total of 12,500 local certificate and associate degree programs in 142 fields of study, with an average of 113 programs offered per college; a high concentration of student enrollment and completions in a small portion of fields; an abundance of short-term certificates; and considerable inconsistency across similar programs (in name, credits, and course requirements). As in the first report, researchers evaluate their findings against a set of criteria, based on a literature review, that characterize an effective CTE mission and identify key issues that will need to be addressed as efforts proceed to increase the effectiveness of CTE in the California Community Colleges. For the complete series on CTE please click here.
Career Opportunities: Career Technical Education and the College Completion Agenda – Part I: Structure and Funding of Career Technical Education in the California Community College
This report is the first in a four-part series on career technical education in the California Community Colleges. The project, funded by The James Irvine Foundation, is aimed at identifying ways that state and system policy can best support California’s community colleges in operating CTE programs that meet the needs of their students and regions. In this first report, researchers describe the complex organizational structure and funding arrangements for the CTE mission and the closely related economic and workforce development mission. Researchers also offer a set of criteria, based on a literature review, that characterize an effective CTE mission and identify five key issues that will need to be addressed as efforts proceed to increase the effectiveness of CTE in the California Community Colleges. For the complete series on CTE please click here.
Dollars and Sense: Analysis of Spending and Revenue Patterns to Inform Fiscal Planning for California Higher Education
This report uses data from the Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity, and Accountability to analyze revenue and spending patterns across California higher education. The report compares patterns across California’s three public higher education systems (University of California, California State University and the California Community Colleges), documents changes over a seven-year period for which data are available (2002-2009), and compares California to the rest of the nation. The report documents several unique characteristics of California higher education including the largest disparity in the nation in educational expenditures per student between the research university sector and the community college sector and a very low share (one-tenth) of educational costs covered through community college tuition compared to the national average of one-third. Documented trends within California higher education include steep declines in state subsidies for UC and CSU and large tuition increases, such that students at those two segments are paying a much larger share of their educational costs, and incremental gains in degree productivity at all three segments that fall well short of state needs. Researchers conclude that policymakers’ traditional approach to fiscal planning is inadequate for today’s challenges and recommend greater transparency in spending and revenues and a more strategic and state-wide approach to financing higher education.
Sense of Direction: The Importance of Helping Community College Students Select and Enter a Program of Study
This report examines the importance of declaring and entering an academic program of study for community college student success and completion. Researchers studied an entering cohort of more than 430,000 community college students and followed their progress over a six-year period through programs of study to completion of a certificate, associate degree or transfer to a university. The study used student course patterns to identify those who entered a program of study in 21 program areas across the liberal arts and sciences and career technical education. Researchers found that entering a program of study is an important milestone on the path to college completion that only half of entering community colleges students reach, and that students who enter a program of study in their first year are twice as likely to complete a certificate, degree, or transfer as those who enter a program of study in the second year or later. (Click here for the appendix) Click here for the brief.
Performance Incentives to Improve Community College Completion: Learning from Washington State's Student Achievement Initiative
A policy brief, jointly produced by IHELP and the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Columbia University, offers lessons to date about the Student Achievement Initiative (SAI), a policy adopted by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges that draws on intermediate measures of student progress to reward colleges for improvements in student achievement. The policy brief examines policy choices that Washington faced in designing and implementing SAI, the choices that leaders in other states will confront when considering adopting performance incentive policies as a means to improve student outcomes. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the three-year evaluation will include an examination of the impact of SAI on college efforts to improve student outcomes and on student outcomes.
The Road Less Traveled: Realizing the Potential of Career Technical Education in the California Community Colleges
This report funded by the James Irvine Foundation, examines four high-wage, high-need career pathways in the California Community Colleges as a basis for exploring the Career Technical Education mission and its role in the college completion agenda. The study found that the potential of CTE to help meet the state’s completion, workforce, and equity goals is not fully realized due to a lack of priority on awarding technical certificates and degrees and an absence of clear pathways for students to follow in pursuing those credentials. The report offers recommendations to strengthen the CTE function including: reexamining the structure and function of occupationally-oriented associate degrees; offering fewer, more consistent CTE programs that clearly meet regional needs; and having students formally declare a program of study, with colleges ensuring that students have access to the classes they need for those programs. (Click here for the appendix).
Divided We Fail: Improving Completion and Closing Racial Gaps in California's Community Colleges
This report, sponsored by the Campaign for College Opportunity, and co-released by 14 organizations, analyzes the progress and outcomes of degree- and certificate-seeking students in the California Community College system. The study tracks the 2003-04 entering cohort (more than a quarter of a million students) over six years, analyzing their progress along a series of intermediate milestones and completion outcomes by race/ethnicity. The report emphasizes that low completion rates and continued racial/ethnic disparities pose serious risks to the state’s future prosperity and offers recommendations for changes to policy and practice with a goal of improving student success, especially among underrepresented minority populations. The recommendations include coordinating a systemwide effort to analyze and publicly report cohort data on enrollment patterns and student progress for each college, by race/ethnicity, and adopting a new funding model that rewards colleges for helping students progress through key milestones – with extra incentives for key attainments achieved by students who entered under-prepared. See Regional Profiles
Divided We Fail in LA: Improving Completion and Closing Racial Gaps in the Los Angeles Community College District
This report was sponsored by Alliance for a Better Community, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing opportunities for Latinos to ensure the well-being of the Los Angeles region. It applies the approach used in our recent report, Divided We Fail, to the nine colleges within the Los Angeles Community College District. The study tracks the 2003-04 entering cohort of degree- and certificate-seeking students (more than 18,000 students) over six years, analyzing their progress along a series of intermediate milestones and completion outcomes by race/ethnicity. The report points out the risks posed by racial/ethnic disparities and offers recommendations for changes to policy and practice with a goal of improving student success, especially among underrepresented minority populations.
Advancing by Degrees - A Framework for Increasing College Completion
This report, produced by IHELP for The Education Trust, offers higher education leaders guidance on using data to monitor student progress and applying the results to inform changes in policy and practice to help more students earn degrees. The report describes a framework of milestones, or intermediate educational achievements that students reach along the path to degree completion, and on-track indicators, or academic and enrollment patterns that are related to a greater likelihood of graduation. The report uses data from the State University System of Florida and the California Community Colleges to demonstrate how the framework can be used in two-year and four-year institutions to diagnose where and why students fall off the path to success and to make changes in policy and practice to increase degree completion. The Education Trust, working with the National Association of System Heads, will distribute the report to leaders of higher education systems across the country.
Steps to Success: Analyzing Milestone Achievement to Improve Community College Student Outcomes
This report offers a framework, based on the research literature, for guiding educators in using available knowledge and tools to improve student outcomes. Using data for the California Community Colleges, the report illustrates the framework, which consists of milestones, or intermediate educational achievements that students reach along the path to degree completion, and indicators of success, or academic patterns students follow including remediation, gateway courses, and credit accumulation. The report shows how the framework can be used to diagnose where and why students fall off the path to success, to suggest appropriate interventions, and to improve accountability in community colleges.
Student Progress Toward Degree Completion: Lessons from the Research Literature
This report reviews the research literature on student success to identify intermediate outcomes, sometimes called “milestones,” along the college pathway that give students momentum toward degree completion. It points to academic behaviors and patterns that have been found to predict student progress and success that can, therefore, be tracked to identify where and why student progress stalls and how changes to policies and practices might increase degree completion. The report was prepared as background for upcoming reports on milestone achievement among community college and university students.
Crafting a Student-Centered Transfer Process in California: Lessons from other states
This report tackles the difficult challenge of making transfer more comprehensible and less frustrating for California’s community college students. The study examines transfer policies of eight states, identifies some key dimensions of emerging policies, and offers recommendations for more student-centered transfer policies that would increase transfer success and lead to more college educated Californians to help meet workforce needs.
Technical Difficulties: Meeting California's Workforce Needs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Fields
This report draws attention to California’s looming shortage of educated workers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, as the demand for such workers increases and the state is producing too few graduates to meet the demand. The report offers recommendations to meet workforce needs and maintain the economic benefits that have resulted from the state’s historical strength in STEM employment. Click here for executive summary.
It Could Happen: Unleashing the Potential of California's Community Colleges to Help Students Succeed and California Thrive
(click here for foldout insert)
This report integrates our work over the last year on how to increase student success. It proposes a specific agenda for policy change that could lead to significant and lasting increases in student success.
Invest in Success: How Finance Policy Can Increase Student Success at California's Community Colleges
(click here for Executive Summary)
This report analyzes the degree to which state finance policies for the community colleges align with state priorities - such as access, completion and affordability. It concludes that there is considerable misalignment; therefore, funds are not invested as well as they might be to accomplish state goals. Alternative approaches to finance are explored, and a new approach is suggested to replace traditional (and ineffective) performance funding with "investing in success."
Beyond the Open Door: Increasing Student Success in the California Community Colleges
(click here for Executive Summary)
This report provides detailed analyses of factors related to student success, connects those factors to state and institutional policies, and offers recommendations for policy reforms. It includes a qualitative analysis of the CCC assessment and placement process. (To receive a hard copy of the report, e-mail your address to email@example.com)
Rules of the Game: How State Policy Creates Barriers to Degree Completion and Impedes Student Success in the California Community Colleges
This report finds low completion rates among degree-seeking students and identifies several areas of state policy that inadvertently create barriers to student success. It offers general recommendations for how changes to state policy in these areas can increase student success. (See an important note about comparison of the completion rate in this report to CCC accountability measures)
Facing Reality: California Needs a Statewide Agenda to Improve Higher Education Outcomes
This report examines seven states that share California's high rates of growth and demographic change to see what California can learn about how to improve access to and success in postsecondary education.
Diminishing Access to the Baccalaureate through Transfer: The Impact of State Policies and Implications for California
This report discusses the reasons behind a narrowing transfer pathway from community colleges to universities in California. It raises questions policymakers should consider in targeting scarce resources to generate the best educational outcomes for Californians.
Capacity Constraints in California's Public Universities: A Factor Impeding Transfer?
This report examines the issue of capacity constraints in California's public universities, and whether limited capacity is a factor impeding the success of the community college transfer function.
California Community College Transfer Rates: Policy Implications and a Future Research Agenda
This statistical study identifies factors that explain observed differences in transfer rates among California's community colleges.
An Accountability Framework for California Higher Education: Informing Public Policy and Improving Outcomes
This report responded to a request by the state Senate to begin developing an accountability system for higher education to measure progress toward definable state policy goals. The report formed the foundation for legislative efforts still underway to establish a state accountability system.
Latinos and Higher Education
A statewide profile prepared by the Campaign for College Opportunity looks at the college-going rates and completion rates for Latino students in California. The profile highlights the declining enrollment and low completion rates for Hispanic students despite the rapidly growing Latino population. The report cited data from the IHELP report, Divided We Fail: Improving Completion & Closing Racial Gaps in California’s Community Colleges.
Blacks and Higher Education - A statewide profile prepared by the Campaign for College Opportunity looks at the college-going rates and completion rates for African American students in California. The profile highlights the declining enrollment, low completion rates and high rates of transfer out of state and to for-profit colleges for African American students, especially in comparison with White, Asian Pacific Islander and Latino students. The report cited data from the IHELP report, Divided We Fail: Improving Completion & Closing Racial Gaps in California’s Community Colleges.
Good News But a Long Way to Go
This brief discusses the findings of a report from the American Association of Community Colleges titled, The Road Ahead: A Look at Trends in the Educational Attainment of Community College Students. The brief offers an analysis of the AACC report’s claims that the investments made in a community college education are “paying off” due to the higher increase in certificates and degrees awarded by community colleges than in total enrollment. While there is cause for celebration with respect to increases in enrollment and college completions, a closer look at the data shows some reasons for caution related to the prominence of short-term certificates among the increased awards and to minority rates of improvement that lag the improvement rate among white students.
Highlights of Findings on Latino Student Success
This one-page brief highlights the findings regarding Latinos in California in the recent IHELP report, Divided We Fail: Improving Completion and Closing Racial Gaps in California’s Community Colleges. It was prepared at the request of Excelencia in Education to complement their series of reports on Latino college completion. Divided We Fail includes analyzes the progress and outcomes of degree- and certificate-seeking students in the California Community College system.
Prerequisite Policy in the California Community Colleges
This two-page brief written by IHELP Director Nancy Shulock examines proposed changes to prerequisite policy in the California Community Colleges. The brief discusses the challenges faced by the CCC regarding under-prepared students and the current trends in other states to increase the success of under-prepared students. A written statement containing this information was presented to the CCC Board of Governors
Retaining Latino College Students: Conclusions from the Literature
This research brief by Dr. Ted Lascher, Sacramento State Associate Dean, College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies, is a summary of a critical review of the literature about retaining Latino and non-Latino college students. This brief highlights those findings that are best supported by earlier studies, emphasizes where further research is needed and offers recommendations. View the full report.
Diminished Access to the Baccalaureate for Low-income and Minority Students in California: The Impact of Budget and Capacity Constraints on the Transfer Function
This article was published in the journal Educational Policy (vol. 19, no. 2).
Effect of Racial/Ethnic Composition on Transfer Rates in Community Colleges: Implications for Policy and Practice
This article was published in the journal Research in Higher Education (vol. 45, no. 6).