How to raise graduation rates

To increase graduation rates, community colleges should streamline student decision-making processes, revise online education models to facilitate course completion and favor college-wide reform over small-scale interventions. These are findings from three working papers released this week by the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University.  This is only the first installment of the Assessment of Evidence Series.

Community colleges need to engage in broad institutional reform, said CCRC director Thomas Bailey.

“Successful stand-alone programs in isolation will not do enough to improve outcomes for large numbers of students. Strategies must work in concert across the institution, and faculty need to be at the center of sustained, college-wide efforts to improve student success.”

Redesigning community colleges for completion: Lessons from research on high-performance organizations by Davis Jenkins outlines steps community colleges can take to improve student learning and progression.

In The shapeless river: Does a lack of structure inhibit students’ progress at community colleges?, Judith Scott-Clayton highlights several promising programs that help students navigate college options and make good choices.

Online learning: Does it help low-income and underprepared students? concludes that online learning is flexible and convenient, but completion rates are low for community college students. Shanna Jaggars suggests ways to improve online learning access and success rates.