What Community College Management Practices Are Effective in Promoting Student Success? A Study of High- and Low-Impact Institutions

By: Davis Jenkins — May 2006. New York: Community College Research Center (Updated October 2006).

This study identifies community college management practices that promote student success. It was conducted by the Community College Resource Center (CCRC) through a partnership with the Florida Department of Education’s Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Education, and funded by Lumina Foundation for Education as part of the Achieving the Dream: Community College Count initiative. Achieving the Dream is a national effort to increase the success of community college students, particularly those from groups that have been underserved in higher education. The initiative works on multiple fronts—including technical assistance to individual community colleges, research, public engagement, and public policy—and emphasizes the use of data to drive change.

This study builds on earlier CCRC research using national survey data. We used transcript-level data on 150,000 students in three cohorts of first-time Florida community college students and a regression methodology to estimate the effect that each of Florida’s 28 community colleges had on the probability that its students would achieve a successful outcome, after controlling for characteristics of the individual students. This effect can be seen as a measure of value added—the impact that a college has on its students’ educational success independent of the characteristics of individual students. We then ranked the colleges according to their estimated effects on student success.

Given the interest of Achieving the Dream in underserved students, we selected colleges for field research using rankings of the magnitude of the effect of each institution on the probability that its African American and Latino students would attain successful outcomes. In Florida, as in other states, African American and Latino community college students are less likely than other students to complete a degree or to transfer to a baccalaureate program. At the same time, because we are interested in what colleges are doing to retain students generally, we also examined each institution’s impact on outcomes for all first-time students.

We used these rankings along with an analysis of descriptive statistics on each institution to select six colleges for field research: three with higher impacts on the chance that their minority students would succeed and three with lower impacts. The purpose of the fieldwork was to compare the institutional policies, practices, and cultural characteristics of the high- and low-impact colleges during the period in which the student cohorts were tracked (from academic year 1998-1999 through 2002-2003) to determine why some colleges had a greater net effect on their minority students’ educational success than did others.

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>> Click here to read the Executive Summary: http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/Publication.asp?UID=448
>> Read the CCRC Brief report at: http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/Publication.asp?UID=439

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