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Reports and Briefs

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 draws from the literature and ongoing research to describe the significant challenges in identifying, defining and measuring indicators of supportive institutional conditions in the community colleges. It 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.

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Career Opportunities: Career Technical Education and the College Completion Agenda – Parts I and II (summarized)

This policy brief is a summary of the first two reports in a series on career technical education in the California Community Colleges. The first report analyzes the complex organizational structure and funding arrangements for the CTE mission and the closely related economic and workforce development mission, while the second report examines the full set of career-technical certificate and associate degree programs offered by the CCC. The brief identifies key issues discussed in the two reports that will need to be addressed as efforts proceed to increase the effectiveness of CTE.

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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. It examines the full set of career-technical certificate and associate degree programs offered 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. In the report, researchers evaluate the 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 to increase the effectiveness of CTE.

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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. It describes the complex organizational structure and funding arrangements for the CTE mission and the closely related economic and workforce development mission. It offers a set of criteria, based on a literature review, that characterize an effective CTE mission and identifies five key issues that will need to be addressed as efforts proceed to increase the effectiveness of CTE in the California Community Colleges.

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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.

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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 track an entering cohort of community college students 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, and found that entering a program of study is an important milestone on the path to college completion.

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Highlights of Findings on Latino Student Success

This one-page brief highlights the findings regarding Latinos in California in the 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.

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Performance Incentives to Improve Community College Completion: Learning from Washington State’s Student Achievement Initiative

This 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 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.

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The Road Less Traveled: Realizing the Potential of Career Technical Education in the California Community Colleges

This report 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.

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Divided We Fail in LA: Improving Completion and Closing Racial Gaps in the Los Angeles Community College District

This report applies the approach used in Divided We Fail to the nine colleges of the Los Angeles Community College District. The study tracked the 2003-04 entering cohort of degree- and certificate-seeking 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.

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Divided We Fail: Improving Completion and Closing Racial Gaps in California’s Community Colleges

This report analyzes the progress and outcomes of degree- and certificate-seeking students in the California Community College system. The study tracked the 2003-04 entering cohort 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.

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Taking the Next Step: The Promise of Intermediate Measures for Meeting Postsecondary Completion Goals

This report, sponsored by Jobs for the Future, examines system, state and multi-state efforts and multi-institution initiatives to develop and use intermediate measures of student success as a tool to improve accountability and guide institutional efforts to improve student success. The report distinguishes between milestones that must be attained in order to get to completion and success indicators that increase a student’s chances of completion. The report analyzes the differences in approach, definitions and uses of the data on intermediate measures and offers recommendations on the collection, reporting and effective use of the data and the need for common practices and definitions.

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Prerequisite Policy in the California Community Colleges

This brief examines proposed changes to prerequisite policy in the California Community Colleges. It 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.

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Beyond the Rhetoric: Improving College Readiness Through Coherent State Policy

his policy brief, jointly produced by the Southern Regional Education Board and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, examines the college readiness problem and offers recommendations to help government and educational leaders strengthen their efforts to lessen the college readiness gap. IHELP Director Nancy Shulock participated in the workgroup that produced the report, which analyzes the causes of the college readiness gap and discusses how states could better address the problem.

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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.

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Strategies for Improving Higher Education in California: Some Lessons from Florida for California’s Higher Education Policy

This policy brief, sponsored by the Campaign for College Opportunity, examines the public higher education policies and practices of the state of Florida in order to determine possible lessons for California in its efforts to increase student success and degree completion. While Florida still faces significant challenges, some of the state’s policy approaches for public higher education warrant consideration in California’s quest for improvement, specifically the comprehensive student data system, policies related to student transfer from community colleges, statewide Career Technical Education program standards, and standardized policies for assessment, placement and remediation.

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Pathways to Success: Lessons from the Literature on Career Technical Education

This literature review analyzes evidence on the effectiveness of career-oriented education in high schools and community colleges and discusses the factors that promote successful educational outcomes for students enrolled in career-technical programs. It finds the literature scarce on career-technical education (CTE) student success and suggests that further research would help us better understand and strengthen CTE student and program outcomes to better meet the needs of the workforce.

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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.

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Student Flow Analysis: CSU Student Progress Toward Graduation

This report is an excerpt of a report to the California State University done as part of its one-year planning grant from the Lumina Foundation’s Making Opportunity Affordable project. The report studies the 23-campus system’s efforts to improve graduation rates, analyzes systemwide data on student progress toward degrees, and makes recommendations for future steps.

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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 can be tracked to identify where and why student progress stalls and how changes to policies and practices might increase degree completion.

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