Articles

Articles on Community College Data

Below is a current list of articles. Others will be added as they are completed, so please stop back regularly. Enjoy reading, and go to the Comments page if you have comments to add!

“In order to assist educators, researchers, administrators, institutional IR, and others who are interested in finding the most reliable data on community colleges, this article provides summaries of and links to the best data currently available. The three organizations cited here are the sources researchers cite most frequently. One can rely on these organizations’ data to be the best possible information with which to make important decisions…”

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“A pattern is developing in the recent community college reform movements sweeping the nation. Researchers publish studies claiming a certain component of higher education is not working well, and in these studies they propose data-based solutions. Due to various reasons, institutions implement those solutions in ways different from the original recommendations. The most recent example of this pattern has to do with college placement. A good theory for reforming placement in college—the use of multiple measures—has largely been implemented improperly, and much of the fault lies with the researchers who have studied the problem and made recommendations, some of which are contrary to their own research. The improper application of this research may negatively affect tens of thousands of students placing into remedial and college-level courses across the nation…” Click here to read more…

“The original Community College of Baltimore County Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) is a comprehensive reform which can modestly improve outcomes in college-level English for remedial students just beneath the placement cutoff. However, there are many important factors one needs to consider before supporting it and the corequisite reform movement as a whole. For example, because some institutions are trying to cut costs, and others want to limit remediation because they view it as ineffective or a barrier, they are using ALP as a basis for implementing versions of corequisites that are nothing more than placing remedial students into college-level courses and adding one lab hour as the sole means of support. These variations are not based on sound research, and therefore the reform resembles a bait-and-switch scheme…” Click here to read more…

“Much of recent research in postsecondary developmental education leaves the distinct impression that most remedial courses in community colleges are unsuccessful in helping students and that they should be entirely overhauled. Legislators and administrators are now taking these recommendations very seriously and are ready to cut programs that are ineffective out of their budgets. However, if this research is read in depth, it is clear the data do not completely support such claims of inefficacy. In fact, if one were to use solely the data from these studies, one could conclude that indeed community colleges are at least somewhat successful with their current developmental programs. The interpretation depends on how developmental education is defined, how success is defined, and how data is interpreted within a larger context…” Click here to read more…

“What are college remedial courses supposed to accomplish? The answer to this question is extremely important because it determines the benchmark for what is considered ‘success’ for these courses. When remediation does not reach the accepted level of ‘success,’ then in many cases it is cut, or it is reformed to such an extent that it harms students. Unfortunately, many researchers and policy experts have set the goal for remediation to be more strenuous than what should be expected based on what remedial courses are designed to cover. In fact, their determination runs counter to decades of theory and practice by experts in the field. We need to investigate what remediation’s goal should be, what some researchers believe it is, and why it matters…” Click here to read more…

“For nearly a decade now the idea that remedial courses are a barrier has taken over higher education. Many educators, news articles, policy experts, advocacy groups, research centers, and legislators repeat this claim to the point that no one seems to question it. And because this sentiment is becoming accepted as true, even by some educators in the field, remediation is being restricted, excessively reformed, or cut entirely. It is clear that the data underlying this claim must be explored further. Without this analysis, we run the risk of claiming that since remedial students take remedial courses first, and these students have low graduation rates, it must be because of those remedial courses. This may be confusing causation with correlation…” Click here to read more…

“Proponents of various reforms—acceleration, corequisites, single “multiple measures” that lower the placement bar to high school GPAs of 2.6 or higher, fast-tracking, modularization—believe that once most remedial courses are eliminated or severely reduced, and most students start in college-level courses instead (‘the default placement for the vast majority of students’ is college-level), then more remedial students will be able to graduate. The data do not support this assertion. What these decisions do instead, then, is to essentially put into practice the decades-old philosophy of the “right to fail.” This short-term approach may in fact be harming hundreds of thousands of at-risk students across the nation while not improving graduation rates…” Click here to read more…

“I attended a conference on higher education several years ago in which there was a session on how to increase the number of students at colleges and universities. In a room of well over 100 people in education, most of whom were administrators, no one batted an eye when the moderator made the assumption that students were customers. I raised my hand and asked, ‘Are we sure that students are in fact customers? Because the last time I checked, I didn’t need to take a test before I ordered a burger.’ Everybody chuckled, and then the president of a university spoke up and said something to the effect of, ‘That’s a fair point. However, students are customers because we rely on them for a great deal of revenue.’ The case was closed, and everyone moved on with the discussion about how to attract more customers…” Click here to read more…

“A group of remedial students were required to enroll in block schedules full-time, to meet with counselors two times a month, to take a non-credit first-year seminar, to have tutoring, and to complete remedial courses early on in their education. In addition, they were given free tuition over and above what their financial aid offered, and they received free transportation, free textbooks, and several free social events. All told, the program costs the college about $5000 per student per year over and above what is already spent. The results of this investment are astounding…”

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