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Dual Enrollment: A Strategy to Improve College-Going and College Completion among Rural Students - Research shows that students who participate in dual enrollment are more likely than their peers to finish high school, enter college and complete a degree. This means dual enrollment can greatly benefit students in rural areas, which report lower college-going and postsecondary attainment rates than other locales. However, rural areas face unique challenges in providing high-quality dual enrollment programs. This report discusses how states are rising to these challenges. (Jennifer Dounay Zinth, ECS, June 2014)...

12 for 2012 - 12 for 2012 is an ECS “read of the field,” built on our scrutiny of new reports and research, and our analysis of emerging drivers of change. The 12 policy areas do not represent an exhaustive list of the critical issues for the coming year, nor is this report intended to dictate your education policy priorities for 2012. Rather, 12 for 2012 is intended to stimulate thinking around how best to craft the “2.0” of powerful policy across the states. (ECS, 2012)...

Committing to College Completion: A National Agenda to Improve Postsecondary Attainment and Workforce Readiness - Hear what Hilary Pennington had to say about postsecondary completion at the 2011 ECS National Forum on Education Policy. ...

The Progress of Education Reform: Investing in College Completion PDF - This issue of The Progress of Education Reform summarizes recent research that may challenge conventional wisdom on how and where public resources for postsecondary education should be dedicated in an effort to increase college completion rates. Questions to be examined include: 1) How did changes in enrollments and the allocation of resources result in declining college completion rates in the United States? 2) Does shifting enrollments to community colleges save money in the long run? and 3) Can investments in student services rather than instruction increase college completion? (Bruce Vandal, Education Commission of the States, August 2010)...

What Impacts Student Success in College Persistence and Completion? PDF - This Research Review is a compilation of research study summaries that address postsecondary success and completion. The recent studies address topics such as: transfer rates, pathways to degrees, declining completion rates and student engagement. (Molly Ryan, August 2010) ...

College Persistence and Completion: What impacts student success? - Access related research titles from the ECS Research Studies Database. Links embedded in titles will take you to each study's major findings and recommendations....

Some College, No Degree: A National View of Students with Some College Enrollment, but No Completion - Over the past 20 years, more than 31 million students have enrolled in college and left without receiving a degree or certificate. By tapping into data from the National Student Clearinghouse, researchers discovered a third of those former students had minimal contact with higher education. The rest, who completed at least two terms, often took nontraditional pathways: stopping out, enrolling part time, enrolling at older ages and enrolling at multiple institutions. Potential completers, who have two or more years' worth of progress, number about 3.5 million and are most relevant to policymakers with a completion agenda. (Doug Shapiro et al., National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, July 2014)...

Maximizing Resources for Student Success by Reducing Time- and Credits-to-Degree - Excessive time-to-degree is worsening, according to this paper, not just from part-time enrollment, but also from excess credits. Strategies to improve time-to-degree are divided into demand-side and supply-side ideas. For students, authors offer intrusive advising, degree roadmaps and information campaigns. For institutions, remedial education reform, simplifying degree requirements and improving course availability. Concrete examples are given with assessments on student impact, financial feasibility and ease of implementation.(Nancy Shulock and Jolene Koester, HCM Strategists, July 2014)...

Progress in Increasing College Attainment Is Increasing; Can It Be Sustained? (From Lumina's Annual Report) - Lumina's annual report declares 2014 could be a watershed - the first year it could be reported that reaching the goal of 60 percent of Americans obtaining a postsecondary credential by 2025 - Goal 2025 - is coming within reach. Most of these credentials are two- and four-year college degrees. In 2012, the proportion of Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 with a degree was 39.4 percent, an increase of 0.7 percent. Degree attainment is accelerating, but for that to continue, equity issues must be addressed. (Lumina, April 2014) (A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, Lumina, 2014)...

America's College Drop-Out Epidemic: Understanding the College Drop-Out Population - Over 40% of full time four-year college students fail to earn a bachelor’s degree within six years, and many never complete their education. Due to their low academic preparedness, about a third of four-year college drop-outs would have a higher chance of bachelor’s degree completion, had they begun college at a two-year institution.(Erin Dunlop Velez, CALDER, January 2014)...

Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002): A First Look at 2002 High School Sophomores 10 Years Later - Ten years after they were high school sophomores, 26-year-olds who’d gotten a bachelor’s degree or higher were less likely to have lost a job since January of 2006 (19%) than those with only a high school credential (40%), one of many factoids to be found in a longitudinal study which sheds light on how key markers affected life outcomes. Another: among those who began their postsecondary education within three months of high school completion, 42% had earned a bachelor’s degree and another 11% had earned a master’s degree (or higher) by 2012; of those who began their postsecondary education 13 or more months following high school completion, 6% had earned a bachelor’s degree and another 1% had earned a master’s degree (or higher) by 2012. (Erich Lauff and Steven J. Ingels, National Center for Education Statistics, January 2014)...

Get With the Program ... and Finish It: Building Guided Pathways to Accelerate Student Completion - New postsecondary students often enroll with no idea about what to study or why. Those who embark on a defined program the first year are much more likely to complete a degree or move on to a four-year institution than who don't enter a program until the second year or later. This paper describes how a growing number of colleges and universities have redesigned academic programs and support services to create guided pathways to increase the rate at which students enter and complete. (David Jenkins and Sung-Woo Cho, Community College Research Center, January 2014)...

Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates - A look at six-year outcomes for the fall 2007 cohort shows that while overall completion and persistence rates remained steady, completion rates for different types of institutions changed slightly. Completion rates were up 1.3 percentage points for students who started at four-year public institutions and up 1.1 percentage points for students who started at two-year public institutions. These numbers do not include dual enrollment students. (National Student Clearinghouse, November 2013)...

Predictors of Postsecondary Success - Intended to help policymakers and educators identify qualities that predict postsecondary success, this brief summarizes research on the subject from early childhood to high school. At the lower levels, predictors mostly related to leapfrogging to achievement at higher levels, for example kindergarten readiness predicting third-grade reading proficiency. At high school, there were numerous indicators and predictors reflecting a breadth of research. (Vanessa Hein, Becky Smerdon and Megan Sambolt, American Institutes for Research, November 2013)...

Searching for Our Lost Associate's Degrees: Project Win-Win at the Finish Line - Three years ago, the Institute for Higher Education Policy began a quest called "Project Win-Win" in which 61 associate's degree-granting colleges in nine states would identify former students whose records indicated they should have gotten degrees, but didn't. They also identified former students who were quite close to getting degrees. They found more than 6,700 students eligible for a retroactive degree, more than 4,500 of whom received degrees. Of those who were close, 1,700 have returned to college. The author makes recommendations for future, similar programs. (Clifford Adelman, Institute for Higher Education Policy, October 2013)...

Aid Like a Paycheck: Incremental Aid to Promote Student Success - A small-scale program that disburses financial aid to students every other week-after tuition and fees are paid has gone through a pilot stage and could be the subject of a large-scale evaluation by MDRC. The potential for Aid Like a Paycheck is that it could help students' success in college, but also save money at the federal, state and private level by ensuring that aid is distributed while students maintain their enrollment. Because it doesn't involve new funding, the belief is Aid Like a Paycheck could be scaled up. (Michelle Ware, Evan Weissman and Drew McDermott, MDRC, September 2013)...

Postsecondary Education - See the Institute for Education Sciences' What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) for recommendations on postsecondary education. The WWC reviews the research on the different programs, products, practices, and policies in education. Then, by focusing on the results from high-quality research, they try to answer the question “What works in education?” The goal is to provide educators with the information they need to make evidence-based decisions. (WWC, September 2013)...

A Stronger Nation through Higher Education: Visualizing Data to Help Us Achieve a Big Goal for College Attainment - Detailed data arrays describe degree attainment at the national, state and county levels in this annual report. Data for each of the nation's 100 most populous metropolitan regions also are provided along with breakdowns of the attainment data including race and ethnicity. Selective printing advised: over 200 pages. (Lumina, June 2013)...

The Community College Penalty and Bachelor's Degree Completion: Fact or Fiction? - Part of a series of reports tracking Illinois college students' postsecondary outcomes longitudinally from 2003 through 2010, this study matched students who transferred from Illinois community colleges to students who entered and matriculated through Illinois four-year institutions to determine if there was a disadvantage for transfer students in terms of bachelor's degree completion. Policy implications with regards to community college transfer students and the Illinois longitudinal data system are presented. (Eric J. Lichtenberger and Cecile Dietrich, Illinois Education Research Council, May 2013)...

The Cost of College Attrition at Four-Year Colleges & Universities - Here is a first-time look at the relationship between attrition and lost revenues of 1,669 four-year public, private and for-profit colleges and universities. Each time a student leaves, school revenue from tuition is lost. Collectively, these institutions of higher learning lose close to $16.5 billion annually. Publicly assisted colleges and universities averaged $13,267,214. Surveyed students gave four reasons for leaving which accounted for 84% of attrition: college doesn't care, poor service and treatment, not worth it, and schedule (not being able to find courses at times that fit their needs). All 1,669 institutions are listed with attrition rates and amounts of lost revenue. Caution! Study is 269 pages long. Readers should look online for the attrition rates of colleges that interest them. (Neal Raisman, Educational Policy Institute, February 2013)...

Advancing to Completion: Increasing degree attainment by improving graduation rates and closing gaps for African-American students - Some U.S. colleges are making the grade for African-American students. Instead of settling for lower success rates, they are taking responsibility for helping more black students graduate. This report shows that colleges and universities across the country are generating positive outcomes for African Americans. The report outlines strategies used by the colleges making great strides in improving their outcomes for African-American students. (The Education Trust, September 2012)...

Advancing to Completion: Increasing degree attainment by improving graduation rates and closing gaps for Hispanic students - Some U.S. colleges are making the grade for Latino students; instead of settling for lower success rates, they are taking responsibility for helping more Latino students graduate. This study shows that institutions across the country are producing stronger outcomes for Latinos. The report outlines strategies used by the colleges making great strides in improving their outcomes for Latino students. (The Education Trust, September 2012)...

Strategies for Success: Promising Ideas in Adult College Completion - This publication is the first of a series focusing on promising new ideas and innovative practices developed through the Adult College Completion Network. The brief addresses five topics of importance to those working to improve adult college completion: 1) Data availability particular to the returning adult population; 2) Partnerships between employers and higher education institutions; 3) Communications and marketing campaigns to reach and reengage adults with prior college credit; 4) Transfer credits; 5) Prior learning assessment. (WICHE, August 2012)...

Going the Distance in Adult College Completion: Lessons from the Non-traditional No More Project - This report details promising practices at the state and institutional levels aimed at bringing adults with some college but no degree back to complete their degrees. (WICHE, June 2012)...

A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education: How and Why Americans Must Achieve a Big Goal for College Attainment - A special report from the Lumina Foundation provides a report card on the nation’s effort to work toward 60 percent of Americans having a high-quality postsecondary credential by the year 2025. Using the most recent Census data (2010), the authors provide detailed breakdowns of college-attainment data for each state. (Lumina Foundation, March 2012)...

A Matter of Degrees: Promising Practices for Community College Success - Community colleges are increasingly aware of the need to substantially increase the completion of certificates and degrees. But there now is unprecedented urgency for this work because having more successful community college graduates is essential to sustaining our local and national economies as well as maintaining strong communities with engaged citizens. This report describes 13 promising practices in community colleges. (CCCSE, 2012)...

Completing College: Assessing Graduation Rates at Four-Year Institutions - This report on graduate rates from the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI; U.S.) reiterates the need to take into account the characteristics of students that enroll in different types of colleges. Previous HERI findings and this current study indicate that a large portion of what predicts graduation in four, five, or six years can be found in the characteristics of the incoming class. (Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, November 2011)...

Pathway to Recovery: Implementing a Back on Track Through College Model - National youth-serving networks, low-income school districts, and community colleges are all on the front lines of helping disconnected youth gain the education and skills they need to contribute to a productive workforce and to rebuild our communities. This paper highlights one such effort to create Back on Track pathways, the Postsecondary Success Initiative, launched in 2008. (Jobs for the Future, November 2011)...

New Measures, New Perspectives: Graduates' Time- and Credits-to-Degree in SREB States - This report introduces the latest new measures on college completion, distinguishes them from graduation rate measures, and reports the first results on time-to-degree and credits-to-degree. It also provides information on the characteristics of graduates, focusing primarily on their beginning status at the institutions from which they graduated. (SREB, November 2011)...

A Guide to Major U.S. College Completion Initiatives - Spurred by President Obama’s goal to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020, a large number of organizations have recently adopted a “college completion agenda” and have undertaken a wide variety of initiatives to boost college completion. This paper provides background information on the topic and summarizes 13 major college completion projects. The origins for each completion initiative are briefly discussed, as are the associated funding partners, key goals and objectives, accomplishments achieved and time frame for future plans. (Alene Russell, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, October 2011)...

Crossing the Finish Line: A National Effort to Address Near Completion - In this brief, IHEP lays out a framework through which higher education leaders, federal and state policymakers, institutional administrators, and private sector executives can effectively address near completion as part of the larger call for accomplishing America’s goal to increase the number and diversity of people who complete college. IHEP’s agenda focuses on dealing with four issues that impede the success of near completers: (1) Recruitment, (2) Assessment, (3) Affordability, and (4) Recognition of Completion. (Institute for Higher Education Policy, October 2011)...

The Road Ahead: A Look at Trends in the Educational Attainment of Community College Students - This brief presents data on educational attainment at community colleges, with an eye toward what the data portend. One extremely positive conclusion can be reached: Educational attainment for all key populations is increasing at community colleges. The investment made in a community college education, by individuals and by society as a whole, is paying off. (Christopher Mullin, American Association of Community Colleges, October 2011)...

The Undereducated American - Following analyses of wage data for the past thirty years, this report confirms that policies that promote access to postsecondary education and encourage completion of college are essential for our economic future. Moreover, the undersupply of college-educated workers has led to the dramatic rise in income inequality over the last thirty years. (Anthony Carnevale and Stephen Rose, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, June 2011)...

Developing 20/20 Vision on the 2020 Degree Attainment Goal: The Threat of Income-Based Inequality in Education - To achieve the Obama Administration’s 2020 goal of once again becoming the nation with the largest share of college-educated citizens, federal education policy must focus with clarity --that is develop “20/20 vision”-- on the challenges that poverty has on the educational pursuits of our youth. (Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, May 2011)...

College Completion Tool Kit - The College Completion Toolkit provides information that governors and other state leaders can use to help colleges in their state increase their completion rates. It highlights key strategies and offers models to learn from, as well as other useful resources. (U.S. Department of Education, March 2011)...

Opening Doors to Student Success: A Synthesis of Findings From An Evaluation at Six Community Colleges - This report discusses strategies that colleges use to expand their programs while working to improve their quality. (MDRC, March 2011)...

Shining a Light on College Remediation in Colorado: The Predictive Utility of the ACT for Colorado and the Colorado Student Assessment Program - These findings suggest that a strategy of targeting efforts to improve all students' academic skills across all subgroups (ethnicity, socioeconomic status, students with disabilities) before they graduate from high school and enter postsecondary institutions, the workforce or the military could potentially reduce the amount of remediation required in postsecondary institutions. (Colorado Department of Education, March 2011)...

Redesigning Community Colleges for Completion: Lessons from Research on High-Performance Organizations - This paper examines available research on the practices of high-performance organizations and goes on to assess the extent to which community colleges follow these practices. The paper evaluates current reform efforts in light of models of organizational effectiveness that emerge from the research literature. Jenkins goes on to look at research on strategies for engaging faculty and staff in organizational innovation. Finally, the last section recommends concrete steps community college leaders can take to redesign how they manage programs and services to increase rates of student completion. (Davis Jenkins, Community College Research Center, January 2011)...

Big Gaps, Small Gaps: Some Colleges and Universities Do Better Than Others in Graduating African-American Students - The authors dug beneath the averages and looked at data from individual institutions in their College Results Online database and found some institutions with horrendous graduation-rate gaps between black and white students. Other institutions have no gaps at all. This is not entirely about preparation and wide gaps are not inevitable. The authors analysis strongly suggests that what colleges do with and for the students they admit matters a great deal. (Mamie Lynch and Jennifer Engle, The Education Trust, August 2010)...

Big Gaps, Small Gaps: Some Colleges and Universities Do Better Than Others in Graduating Hispanic Students - This brief calls attention to the colleges and universities that are serving Hispanic students well, as evidenced by small or nonexistent graduation-rate gaps between Hispanic and white students. The authors also shine a necessary light on institutions with particularly large gaps--the institutions that are not serving these students as effectively as they should. (Mamie Lynch and Jennifer Engle, The Education Trust, August 2010)...

Complete to Compete: Common College Completion Metrics - Increasing degree completion at America's public colleges and universities is pivotal for the nation's economic competitiveness and longterm economic growth. To meet this goal in a time of fiscal strain, policymakers and higher education leaders need comprehensive, consistent performance metrics to shape funding strategies and pinpoint areas for improvement. A Work Group on Common College Completion Metrics was convened by the National Governors Association to make recommendations. (National Governors Association, June 2010)...

Complete to Compete: Common College Completion Metrics - This report provides recommendations on the common higher education measures that states should collect and report publicly. The report identifies multiple outcome metrics (i.e., "time and credits to degree") and progress metrics (i.e., "enrollment in remedial education"). Information on the progress toward, and degree completion of, all students in higher education allows state leaders to gauge whether policies are successful and helps inform future funding decisions. Collecting and reporting metrics at the campus, system and state levels is a necessary first step for states as they seek to improve completion rates and productivity in higher education. (Ryan Reyna, National Governors Association, June 2010)...

The Toolbox Revisited: Paths to Degree Completion from High School Through College - "Oldie but goodie."This report, following up on the seminal 1999 Answers in the Toolbox seeks to identify the factors that contribute to an individual's completing a bachelor's degree by his mid-20s, following a national sample of students scheduled to graduate from high school in 1992. The study finds that high school curriculum matters more than any other precollegiate indicator in determining a student's likelihood of finishing a bachelor's degree, and of all precollegiate curriculum indicators, highest level of math completed continues to be key. The report likewise indicates which postsecondary variables – including timing and type of institution entered, first postsecondary year history (curriculum and performance), paying for college in the first years and college attendance patterns among others – are most frequently associated with baccalaureate completion. The author notes that to close gaps in preparation, "the provision of [high school] curriculum issue has to be addressed" and the "math gap" needs to be fixed. Check out the summary in our Research Studies Database. (Clifford Adelman, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education, February 2006)...


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