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Education Department Adopts Recommendations of Committee Chaired by CCRC’s Thomas Bailey

Nearly six years after the Committee on Measures of Student Success recommended that the federal government provide a more complete picture of how students earn degrees at community colleges, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has adopted many of the success measures into its reports.

The committee, which was chaired by CCRC Director Thomas Bailey, convened to address criticism that federal data on community college graduation rates were incomplete and misleading because they only included first time, full-time students that completed their program at the college where they started. That captured less than half of the population of community colleges. The committee recommended that NCES collect additional data on part-time students, transfer students, students who are deemed not college ready, and federal financial aid recipients. It also recommended breaking down the data by race, ethnicity, and gender. It issued its report in December 2011 and a series of technical review panels did additional work on the details of implementing the recommendations.

"The addition of outcomes measures for part-time, transfer, and Pell students will give a truer picture of students around the country but especially those who attend community colleges," Bailey said. "As colleges work to give all students the best possible chance to graduate, we need detailed data to find out what's working and what isn't."

NCES put out its first report with the new graduation measures for part-time and transfer students in October 2017. The Center is also adding expanded data on Pell grant recipients to its reports. For 2016–17, the percentage of students who had completed their degree within eight years was 53.6 percent at four-year schools and 31.6 percent at two-year schools.

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