Rewarding colleges for student achievement progress has produced “modest” gains in Washington state’s community and technical colleges since 2007, concludes a Community College Research Center study by Clive Belfield. Under the Student Achievement Initiative (SAI), the state has linked some funding to students’ progress in achieving goals.
Achievement is measured in points, using six metrics: improvement in performance on assessment of basic skills; advancement across levels of developmental education; accumulation of 15 college credits; accumulation of 30 college credits; completion of quantitative reasoning courses; and completion of a degree, certificate, or apprenticeship.
From baseline to 2011, the average college increased its total points by 31 percent. The study found “modest evidence” of progress improvements, known as momentum, “primarily among students in college-level courses who were accumulating credits and making progress toward completion.” However, half of students didn’t earn any progress points. Basic skills students also had little momentum.
“Moving forward, colleges may be more likely to improve student momentum if they focus on the gains that can be made among students when they first enter the institution,” Belfield advises.