The Ones That Got Away: Why Completing a College Degree Is Not the Only Way to Succeed
Recent research on the California community college system has revealed that workforce training programs yield some of the highest earnings for community college students, regardless of whether those students complete a degree or college certificate. Still, most conversations about community college success are limited to whether students graduate.
An exclusive focus on degree completion does not fit well with the diversity of workforce training pathways that colleges have built in career and technical education (CTE) because many of these pathways do not lead to a college credential.
By expanding definitions of student success to include employment, earnings gains, and third-party credentials, colleges will be able to more accurately measure the outcomes of all their CTE programs.
This brief draws on numerous studies to explore alternative approaches to measuring how well community colleges serve CTE students.
Visit the Economic Mobility, Postsecondary, and Workforce area of work to learn more about WestEd’s work in this area.
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