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Postsecondary Students--Adults


Community College Success: Is It a Path to Opportunity? PDF - This issue of the Progress of Education Reform looks at the latest research on student success in community colleges and offers insights on the strategies that show the most promise in promoting greater educational attainment for community college students. (Bruce Vandal, The Progress of Education Reform, vol. 9, no. 5, Education Commission of the States, September 2008)...

Enrollment in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2009; Graduation Rates, 2003 and 2006 Cohorts; and Financial Statistics, Fiscal Year 2009--First Look - This First Look report presents findings from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System spring 2010 data collection. This collection included five components: (1) Student Financial Aid for full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students for the 2009-10 academic year; (2) Enrollment for fall 2009; (3) Graduation Rates within 150% of normal program completion time for full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students beginning college in 2003 at 4-year institutions or in 2006 at less-than-4-year institutions; (4) Graduation Rates within 200% of normal program completion time for full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students beginning college in 2001 at 4-year institutions or in 2005 at less-than-4-year institutions; and (5) Finance for fiscal year 2009. (Laura Knapp, Janice Kelly-Reid and Scott Ginder, National Center for Education Statistics, March 2011)...

More Is Less: Extra Time Does Little to Boost College Grad Rates - Since 1991, the federal government has requires colleges to track and report graduation rates for first-time, full-time degree- or certificate-seeking students. In 2008, the federal government moved to extend the graduation time frame to 200 percent of time enrolled. Despite the addition of as many as two years to the measurement window, institutions overall showed only modest increases in their graduation rate. Two-year institutions showed the greatest gain (31.4% to 36.7%) Four-year institutions registered the smallest gains (a change of only 2.8%). (Ben Miller, Education Sector, December 2010)...

Strengthening College Opportunity and Performance: Federal, State and Institutional Leadership - This policy report from the Dela Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, NCHEMS and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education argues that the lofty college completion goal that has emerged as the closest thing to a national higher education strategy will not succeed without much more aggressive leadership than national, state and higher education leaders have shown so far. The paper provides action steps. (National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, December 2010)...

2009-10 Indicators Report - This new SREB report provides the first interstate comparisons on the much needed indicators that facilitate the achievement of state's college completion goals. (Southern Regional Education Board, December 2010)...

Winning by Degrees: The Strategies of Highly Productive Higher Education Institutions - Increasing the number of adults in this country with higher education degrees is critical to creating opportunities for individuals and for sustaining the country's economic growth. McKinsey's new research shows that it is possible to achieve significant increases in college attainment if the nation can apply five winning strategies already implemented by highly productive colleges and universities in the country: (1) systematically enabling students to reach graduation; (2) reducing nonproductive credits; (3) redesigning the delivery of instruction; (4) redesigning core support services; and (5) optimizing non-core services and other operations. All of which contribute to reducing cost per student. (McKinsey & Company, November 2010)...

Immigrants and Visible Minorities: Post-Secondary Education Experiences - Among low-income college students, visible minority immigrants have a dropout rate in the first or second year of 17.1%, as compared to 25.5% (or almost 50% higher in relative terms) for non-immigrant, non-"vismin" students. The authors also find that despite their successes in postsecondary education, visible minorities--whether immigrant or not--are less likely than others to agree that "their faculty is helpful and sympathetic" and fewer say "their school is a place where they feel they belong". (Ross Finnie, Stephen Childs and Andrew Wismer, The MESA Project, November 2010)...

College Persistence and Completion Strategies: Opportunities for Scaling Up - An examination of academic literature, state policies and specific campus-based initiatives regarding higher education access and completion suggests that a great deal of work remains to be done to ensure broad-based academic success. The authors concluded that access is not enough —we need a new commitment to address persistence. Among their recommendations are expanding financial assistance, building on the Twenty-first Century Scholars Program, and targeting at-risk students. (Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, Fall 2010)...

No Time to Waste: Policy Recommendations for Increasing College Completion - This report challenges states to become national leaders in increasing college completion. The authors include ten major policy recommendations for states to pursue including setting specific goals for awarding more of each degree type and raising graduation rates; more attention to college costs and targeted financial aid; improving high school students’ readiness for college; new institutional practices to help more students succeed; greater efficiency in institutions’ operations and in students’ paths to degrees; bringing many more adults back to finish college; and more. (Southern Regional Education Board, September 2010)...

College Graduation Rates: Behind the Numbers - This report highlights the complexities of measuring what many policy makers view as a simple compliance metric with the existing national databases. Just because the existing databases used to calculate graduation rates were not designed with the current policy demands in mind does not render them useless. The databases referenced in this report provide valuable information on graduation rates, however users should take care in using them to measure the overall effectiveness of postsecondary education institutions. (Bryan Cook and Natalie Pullaro, American Council on Education, September 2010)...

Investing in Change: How Much Do Achieving the Dream Colleges Spend--and from What Resources--to Become Data-Driven Institutions? - This report analyzes the experiences of five community colleges and the investments they made in implementing an institution-wide improvement process aimed at increasing student success. The colleges in this study are located in the southeastern and southwestern United States. The report examines how, where, and with what resources these colleges supported their reforms, as well as the key activities driving their overall expenditures. (Elizabeth Zachry and Erin Coghlan, MDRC, June 2010)...

The College Completion Agenda: 2010 progress report - This report explains a ten-point plan to increase enrollment and graduation rates in two- and four-year higher institutions. The first of its points is to provide voluntary pre-k education to all three and four year olds from low-income families, defined as those living at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. (John Michael Lee Jr. and Anita Rawls, College Board, 2010) ...

Promoting a Culture of Student Success: How Colleges and Universities Are Improving Degree Completion - Colleges improve student graduation by focusing more attention on student success--starting with first-year programs to help get freshmen off to a good start and doing more to meet the individual and group needs of students. The most successful institutions focus intently on continuous improvement. (A. Paul Bradley and Cheryl Blanco, SREB, April 2010)...

Advancing by Degrees: A Framework for Increasing College Completion - This 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. Using date from the State University System of Florida and the California Community Colleges to demonstrate how the framework can be used in two- 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. (Jeremy Offenstein, Colleen Moore and Nancy Shulock, Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy, April 2010)...

Scaling Up Learning Communities: The Experience of Six Community Colleges - In recent years, a popular response to the quest to help more students achieve their education and career goals by enrolling groups of students together in two or more courses, which are often linked thematically and share assignments. This course structure is called a "learning community." Six community colleges across the country are participating in the Learning Communities Demonstration attempting to answer questions on the development of learning communities. The experiences of these six colleges are the subject of this report. (National Center for Postsecondary Research, March 2010)...

Rising to the Challenge: Hispanic College Graduation Rates as a National Priority - President Barack Obama has called for the United States to reclaim its position as the nation with the highest concentration of adults with postsecondary degrees in the world. Given the changing demographics of the United States, this target cannot be achieved without increasing the rate at which Hispanic students obtain a college degree. In this report, the authors explore the dimensions of this challenge and identify steps that can be taken to help meet this ambitious national goal. (American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, March 2010)...

Fueling the Race to Postsecondary Success: A 48-Institution Study of Prior Learning Assessment and Adult Student Outcomes - The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning completed a research study on the academic outcomes of students who earn credit for prior learning. Data was collected from 62,475 students at 48 higher education institutions offering prior learning assessment. The report presents the findings on the comparison of prior learning assessment students with other students in terms of earned degrees, persistence and time to degree. Such a large-scale look at prior learning assessment credit earning and academic outcomes has never before been done. (Rebecca Klein-Collins, Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, March 2010)...

Open-Access Colleges Responsible for Greatest Gains in Graduation Rates - The largest gains in graduation rates over the past decade have been accomplished at open-access or nearly open-access colleges and universities. In addition, states could see even bigger increases if they directed their policies and supports toward improving graduation rates at these non-selective institutions. (William Doyle, National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, February 2010)...

Opportunity Adrift: Our Flagship Universities Are Straying From Their Public Mission - The report examines how well the nation’s most prestigious, or flagship, public universities are serving the student populations of their respective states. Its findings suggest that many of the nation's top public universities are giving millions of dollars in financial aid to students from relatively wealthy families, rather than to those who urgently need it. (Kati Haycock, Mary Lynch and Jennifer Engle, The Education Trust, January 2010)...

Calculating Cost-Return for Investments in Student Success - A pilot project funded by the Walmart and Lumina foundations tested whether first-year programs designed to retain students are a cost-effective investment for colleges and universities. The project produced the Cost-Return Calculator, a resource that ties program-level cost data to student outcomes in success programs. (Jobs for the Future and the Delta Cost Project, December 2009) ...

With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them: Myths and Realities About Why So Many Students Fail to Finish College - This is the first of three reports describing young Americans' views on higher education and college completion. Based on a national survey of young adults ages 22 to 30, this research dispels some common myths about why so many students do not graduate and details what kinds of changes might make a difference. (Public Agenda, December 2009)...

Success at Every Step: How 23 Programs Support Youth on the Path to College and Beyond - This compendium describes programs that have been proven to help young people successfully complete high school and be prepared for success in postsecondary education and careers. These programs represent a wide range of interventions, including school-wide reform initiatives, community-based afterschool services, work-based learning opportunities and college access programs. (Sarah Hooker and Betsy Brand, American Youth Policy Forum, October 2009)...

Getting Back on Track: Effects of a Community College Program for Probationary Students - MDRC's study can help decisionmakers understand the implications of investing in student supports--particularly for underprepared and/or at-risk college students. (Susan Scrivener, Colleen Sommo and Herbert Collado, MDRC, April 2009)...

Rewarding Persistence: Effects of a Performance-Based Scholarship Program for Low-Income Parents - Two Louisiana community colleges sought to confront some postsecondary completion problems through the use of performance-based scholarships and counseling. This study describes positive short-term findings, including that low-income, mostly single mothers in the program were more likely to register full time, to persist in their studies from semester to semester, to earn higher grades and more credits, and to have better social and psychological outcomes than students in a control group.(Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Thomas Brock, Allen LeBlanc, Christina Paxson, Cecilia Rouse and Lisa Barrow, MDRC, January 2009)...

Creating Change One Step at a Time: Efforts to Improve College Access and Success in Indiana - In just 12 years, Indiana went from 34th to 10th in the nation in percentage of high school graduates who enrolled in college the fall following high school graduation. This report details how they did it, an evolutionary process that involved establishing a statewide student information system, imposing a mandatory, more rigorous high school curriculum, working to expand postsecondary affordability, investing in a community college system and focusing on college students’ success, including addressing the special needs of at-risk student populations. (Wendy Erisman and Melissa Del Rios, Institute for Higher Education Policy, September 2008)...

Postsecondary Institutions in the United States: Fall 2006 and Degrees and Other Awards Conferred: 2005-06 - The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) collects institution-level data from postsecondary institutions across the nation. This report presents findings from the IPEDS fall 2006 data collection, which included two survey components: (1) Institutional Characteristics for the 2006-07 academic year, and (2) Completions covering the period July 1, 2005, through June 30, 2006. (Laura Knapp, Janice Kelly-Reid, Scott Ginder and Elise Miller, U.S. Institute of Education Sciences, September 2007)...

Opening the Door to the American Dream: Increasing Higher Education Access and Success for Immigrants - In this report from the Institute for Higher Education Policy, the issue of immigrants and higher education is analyzed. The authors argue that increasing access into higher education for immigrants would have significant implications for the immigrant population and the country as a whole. (Wendy Erisman and Shannon Looney, Institute for Higher Education Policy, 2007)...

Demography Is Not Destiny: Increasing the Graduation Rates of Low-Income College Students at Large Public Universities - This report describes differences in institutional policies and practices, as well as commonalities among the higher-performing institutions. The report examines if practices aimed at improving overall graduation rates also work for low-income students and offer recommendations for institutions. (Jennifer Engle and Colleen O’Brien, Council for Opportunity in Education, 2007)...

Placing College Graduation Rates in Context: How 4-Year College Graduation Rates Vary With Selectivity and the Size of Low-Income Enrollment - This report uses data primarily from the 2004 Graduation Rate Survey (GRS), a component of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), to provide a systemwide overview of how graduation rates of comparable four-year institutions vary with institution selectivity and the size of the low-income population enrolled. The report clearly shows that graduation rates dropped systematically as the proportion of low-income students increased, even within the same Carnegie classification and selectivity levels. Variations by gender and race/ethnicity also were evident. Women graduated at higher rates than men, and in general, as the proportion of low-income students increased, so did the gap between female and male graduation rates. The gap in graduation rates between white and Black students and between white and Hispanic students, on the other hand, typically narrowed as the as the proportion of low-income students increased. (Laura Horn, National Center for Education Statistics, November 2006) ...

State of Decline? Gaps in College Access and Achievement Call for Renewed Commitment to Educating Californians - This report is the second in a series of reports analyzing the performance of California higher education in the areas of preparation, participation, completion, affordability and benefits. It presents data related to these categories of performance by region and by race/ethnicity. (Colleen Moore and Nancy Shulock, Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy, October 2006) ...

Connecting the Dots: Multi-Faceted Analyses of the Relationships between Student Engagement Results from the NSSE, and the Institutional Practices and Conditions That Foster - The purpose of this report is to determine the relationships between student engagement and selected measures of success in college for students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds attending different types of four-year colleges and universities. The report's findings include: (1) engagement has positive, modest effects on grades and persistence for students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, even after controlling for key pre-college variables; and (2) engagement has compensatory effects on first-year grades and persistence to the second year of college at the same institution for historically underserved students. The authors argue that most institutions can foster greater levels of student engagement and success by more consistently using what this and other research shows are promising policies and effective educational practices. (George D. Kuh, Jillian Kinzie, Ty Cruce, Rick Shoup and Robert M. Gonyea, Center for Postsecondary Research, August 2006) ...

The Postsecondary Educational Experiences of High School Career and Technical Education Concentrators: Selected Results From the NELS:88/2000 Postsecondary Education Transcr - Students’ coursetaking during high school plays a critical role in their ability to transition to postsecondary education and pursue a range of postsecondary majors and degree options. Less understood are the associations between high school courses that prepare students for the world of work, now commonly referred to as career and technical education (CTE) courses, and students’ postsecondary educational experiences. The purpose of this publication is twofold: (1) it presents data on the postsecondary educational experiences of students from the high school class of 1992 who concentrated in CTE while in high school, including information on their postsecondary enrollment, coursetaking, and degree attainment; and (2) it demonstrates the richness and unique potential of the dataset analyzed, the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988, one of only two data collections – and the most recent – to have gathered both high school and postsecondary transcripts from a nationally representative sample of students. (Jennifer Laird, Xianglei Chen, Karen Levesque and Jeffrey Owings, National Center for Education Statistics, July 2006) ...

Degree Completions in Areas of National Need, 1996-97 to 2001-02 - This report describes degree completions in academic programs of national need between the academic years 1996-97 and 2001-02, focusing on institutions that grant awards of associate’s degrees and higher. In particular, it examines the following: the change in the number of degrees completed in areas of national need over the 5-year period; and degree completions in terms of gender and race/ethnicity and how they have changed over the 5-year period. Tables presenting the characteristics of students who completed degrees in areas of national need are included, by degree type, for reference purposes. (Sarah Krichels Goan, Alisa F. Cunningham and C. Dennis Carroll, National Center for Education Statistics, May 2006) ...

Engaging Students, Challenging the Odds - This survey provides community colleges data about students’ experiences at their colleges so they can better understand how effectively they are engaging their students and identify areas for improvement. This 2005 report reflects responses from 133,281 students from 257 colleges in 38 states, and includes results of the first administration of the community college faculty survey of student engagement, which provides insights into faculty perceptions and practices. (Community College Survey of Student Engagement, 2005) ...

The Road Less Traveled? Students Who Enroll in Multiple Institutions - Fifty-nine percent of students who earned a bachelor's degree during the 1999-2000 school year attended more than one college, a trend that is expected to continue. According to the authors, complications with credit transfer or differing course requirements, as well as gaps between enrollment from one institution to the next, elongate the amount of time it takes these students to complete a four-year degree. Demographic data and an explanation of the reasons why students switch colleges or universities also are included. (Katharin Peter, Emily Forrest Cataldi and C. Dennis Carroll, National Center for Education Statistics, May 2005)...

College Persistence on the Rise? Changes in 5-Year Degree Completion and Postsecondary Persistence Rates between 1994 and 2000 - This study from the National Center for Education Statistics examines student persistence rates during the 1990s by comparing two student cohorts -- those who enrolled during the 1989-90 school year and those who enrolled six years later in 1995-96. The report finds that between 1989 and 1995, undergraduate enrollment at colleges and universities rose by nearly 1 million students and that not only did more of those students remain enrolled in college after five years, they were also more racially and ethnically diverse than the previous cohort. Numerous tables and data points supplement the narrative for those who wish to investigate the issue further. (Laura Horn, Rachael Berger and C. Dennis Carroll, National Center for Education Statistics, 2004)...

Principal Indicators of Student Academic Histories in Postsecondary Education 1972-2000 - This report provides a comprehensive account of the postsecondary academic experience and attainment of traditional-age students during the period 1972-2000, with an emphasis on the period 1992-2000. The report draws on three grade-cohort longitudinal studies that were designed and carried out by the National Center for Education Statistics. Issues covered in the report include geographic mobility, postsecondary access and degree of participation, postsecondary attainment (degrees, credits, time-to-degree), attendance patterns, majors, curriculum clusters, grades and remediation. (U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, January 2004)...

College Completion: Additional Efforts Could Help Education with Its Completion Goals - Increasingly, states are beginning to hold colleges accountable for retaining and graduating their students. This report from the United States General Accounting Office (GAO) examines the extent to which four-year college students complete a degree, the factors that affect college completion, and what states and four-year institutions are doing to foster bachelor’s degree completion. The study finds that more than half of all students who enrolled in a four-year college completed a bachelor’s degree within six years. It also finds that students from disadvantaged backgrounds were no less likely to complete a degree than other students, though these same students were less likely to attend college in the first place. (GAO, May 2003)...

The Road to Equality: Report on Transfer for the Ford Foundation - This report examines the current status of transfer and articulation policies and practices across the nation, including an in-depth analysis of policies in California, Florida, Michigan, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington. It provides recommendations to create and improve statewide policies, looks at the role of community colleges in baccalaureate education, analyzes the opportunities students have to pursue postsecondary education, and examines the issues of financial aid, remediation and access for minority and underprivileged students. The report is not available online but can be ordered by writing to the Ford Foundation, 320 E. 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017, or by calling 212.573.5000 (Julie Yearsley Hungar and Janet Lieberman, The Ford Foundation, 2001) ...

Answers in the Toolbox: Academic Intensity, Attendance Patterns, and Bachelor’s Degree Attainment - What factors determine if a student graduates from college? What is the role of high school preparation, college selectivity and remediation? The answers to these questions and more can be found in this comprehensive study on college-degree attainment. There is invaluable information for policymakers and parents alike. (Clifford Adelman, U.S. Department of Education, 1999)...


Selected Research & Readings Current

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