How to raise completion rates

Poor academic preparation and inadequate information on financial aid and finding the right college match are responsible for low college completion rates, concludes a Grantmakers for Education report, From Access to Success: A Funders Guide to Ensuring More Americans Earn Postsecondary Degrees (pdf).

In addition, colleges don’t stress completion or collect data to identify students who need extra help, adds College Bound.

Finally, without large-scale data systems aligned with K-12 to track student success, it’s difficult for policymakers to come up with solutions. The report is also critical of “arcane” financial-aid policies, and procedures serve as barriers rather than supports for low-income students.

Colleges with above-average graduation rates:

– Use performance data consistently and from the start to get students needed support;

– Redesign introductory courses where they lose a lot of students;

– Require anything that contributes to student success, such as attendance in lectures, labs, and tutoring sessions;

– Clearly assign responsibility for student success at the department level, at the advisory level, at the leadership level so there is accountability;

In addition, school leaders make student success a priority and “reach out to students who have left, asking them to come back and providing the supports they need to succeed once they return.”


POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON July 27, 2010

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[...] On Community College Spotlight:  Latinos are less likely to choose four-year colleges and How to raise completion rates. [...]

Lois Leveen

Thanks for helping to publicize the report. Our immediate audience is education grantmakers, but many of the problems we identify and solutions we suggest really require the attention of folks across sectors, from policymakers to K-12 and college leaders, to community service providers. And raising awareness of these issues among students and their families is also key.

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