The Missing Piece: Quantifying Non-Completion Pathways to Success
Community colleges measure success by the outcomes their students achieve, in addition to the number of students they serve. However, while completion outcomes are important metrics of success, they do not measure all of the goals of community colleges. There are also significant metrics of success related to workforce development that can occur outside of the completion framework.
A surprising number of first-time community college students enroll in six or fewer units, succeed in those courses, but do not complete a credential or transfer. Many of those students, particularly those who enroll in career and technical education subjects, take a coherent cluster of related courses and, as a result, attain significant wage gains.
This guide, coauthored by WestEd’s Kathy Booth, outlines research on skills-builder students in California community colleges. Through built-in discussion questions, this guide also helps relate research results to key concerns in community colleges. It is intended to support conversations on college campuses and in the policy arena regarding:
- How to better understand students’ goals by examining their course-taking behavior
- The types of measures that are needed to improve the assessment of community college outcomes and impacts
- The potential implications and effects of current policy and institutional reform efforts
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