Research on Community Colleges: Readiness, Quality, and Completion
November 13, 2013 02:22 PM
By Monete Johnson, Rutgers University
The Urban Institutes’ Lauren Eyster chaired the Friday morning panel on community colleges. Four presenters addressed a number of topics focusing on readiness, quality, and completion.
Michal Kurlaender, University of California, Davis, presented College Readiness and School Accountability: Improving Alignment Between K-12 and Postsecondary Schoolin. Heexaminedthe effects of a recent California legislation where high schools are accountable for student college readiness. A number of different metrics are used to measure school readiness. The paper looks at the varying implications for high schools depending on how the state conceptualizes school readiness.
Jessica Howell, The College Board, presented her research with Peter Bahr, University of Michigan, inSegmental Shift: Baccalaureate Aspirations That Lead to the Community College. Howell asked “What impact does monetary reasons play in academically prepared and college motivated students and their decision to attend a 2- or 4-year institution?” The authors used a 15 group matched cohort design of community college students to study examines what happens to students who intended to transfer to 4 year institutions.
Jonathan Smith, The College Board, sharedThe Effects of College Sector and Peers on Degree Attainment and looked at the effect a community college’s quality has on students in 2- and 4-year degree attainment. Smith reported that after looking at PSAT scores across a number of 2-year versus 4-year schools, the qualities of community colleges vary greatly. In some states, there are 2-year schools with a higher average PSAT score than their 4-year counterparts. In these high quality, 2-year schools it was found that there was a strong peer effect. Even for low achieving students there were more students achieving 2- and 4-year degrees at a faster completion rate than the average and sometimes quicker than some 4-year institutions.
Lastly, Michael Drew Hurwitz, The College Board, presented the findings fromUsing Admissions Thresholds to Assess the Benefits of Two- Year and Four-Year College Quality. Using a regression discontinuity design, Hurwitz looked at the effects admission SAT thresholds have on students’ decisions to enroll in a 2- or 4-year institution. It was found that students who were just under the threshold were more likely to enroll in a 2-year institution. While they were more likely to receive a 2-year degree, they were no less likely to receive a 4-year degree.
The panel’s discussant, Chistorper Mullin of The American Association of Community Colleges, could not make the session in person. He did provide questions via PowerPoint for Eyster to pose to the audience. Mullin’s questions challenged us to think broadly about how to improve the presented and future research and use it inform policy in a meaningful way.