The Role of Community Colleges in Postsecondary Success

The Role of Community Colleges in Postsecondary Success

by | Feb 13, 2017 | Announcements, Research Reports, Research Services, Reverse Transfer |

Ricardo Torres, President and CEO, National Student Clearinghouse
J. Noah Brown, President and CEO, Association of Community College Trustees

As many of you know firsthand, community colleges educate more than 12 million students each year preparing them for their pathways to success, whether in higher education or their professional careers. They also provide critical pathways to four-year institutions for students seeking to transfer. To help tell this story, we are releasing today a report titled, “The Role of Community Colleges in Postsecondary Success.”

Every week, community colleges announce new efforts to provide affordable options for students to obtain a postsecondary degree or non-credit program to advance their careers and qualities of life. However, community college leaders and policymakers must continue to discuss and decide what should be measured, how data can be aggregated, and which benchmarks identify what successful pathways look like.

Given the multiple missions community colleges have and the diverse services they provide, the metrics used to assess their effectiveness must be updated to include more than just the graduation rate of first-time, full-time students. To assist community colleges with the metrics needed, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center views the following three categories as important indicators of community college progress:

1. College Persistence
2. Transfer and Mobility
3. Certificate and Degree Completion

Six-Year Outcomes and First Completion for Students Who Started at Two-Year Public Institutions by Enrollment Intensity, Fall 2010 cohort (N=1,088,813)

Six-Year Outcomes and First Completion for Students Who Started at Two-Year Public Institutions by Enrollment Intensity, Fall 2010 cohort (N=1,088,813)

College Persistence
Six out of 10 students who begin college at a two-year public institution persist into the second fall term. Of the students who persist, nearly one in five do so at a transfer destination.

Transfer and Mobility
Of all students who began college at two-year public institutions in fall 2008, 24.4 percent transferred to a four-year institution within six years and 15.0 percent transferred to two-year institutions (lateral transfer) for an overall transfer rate of 39.4 percent.

Certificate and Degree Completion
In the 2016 Signature Report on completion rates, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that 30 percent of the 2010 entering cohort of community college students completed their first credential within six years at either their initial institution  or from a different two-year college. In addition, another 9.3 percent completed their first credential at a four-year institution.

The data continue to show that policymakers and education administrators need to take a more varied approach in determining community college effectiveness and supporting community colleges to help students succeed.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center and the Association of Community College Trustees are committed to meeting assessment needs through tracking student persistence and retention, transfer and mobility, and student outcomes, whether for two- and four-year degree attainment or technical and professional education. Our organizations are able to support efforts to help students keep track of their learning progression and outcomes, and assure that the institutions providing the education, learning, skills, and abilities sought are recognized for their work.

We look forward to working with you in telling as complete a story of the students impacted as the data permits. Watch for more to come in 2017 and let us know how we can help you!

“…community college leaders and policymakers must continue to discuss and decide what should be measured, how data can be aggregated, and which benchmarks identify what successful pathways look like.”

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