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Policy Levers to Strengthen Community College Transfer Student Success in Texas

By: Thomas Bailey, Davis Jenkins, John Fink, Jenna Cullinane & Lauren Schudde

Abstract

Policy Levers to Strengthen Community College Transfer Student Success in Texas

This report to the Greater Texas Foundation recommends ways that state policy could help to improve outcomes for community college transfer students in Texas. It is based on three sets of analyses: (1) analysis of National Student Clearinghouse data on transfer and degree outcomes for Texas students compared to those in other states; (2) analysis of state transfer policies to better understand the policy environment and identify policies that may facilitate or inhibit transfer success in the state; and (3) interviews with over 50 persons at 36 Texas colleges (18 two-year and 18 four-year institutions) on how state policy plays out on the ground with students and institutions.

The report finds that existing transfer policy in Texas fails to help students transfer successfully and efficiently. First, students do not have clear “transfer pathways” that lead in coherent, transparent, widely accepted ways from community college enrollment, through transfer, to bachelor’s completion. Second, even if there were clearer pathways, students are not given much help in choosing, entering, and staying on transfer pathways.

The report recommends ways state policy might be enhanced to achieve three objectives that are key to improving transfer student success: (1) create stronger transfer pathways, (2) help students choose and stay on a transfer pathway, and (3) build momentum for regional community college-university collaboration to improve transfer outcomes.