Publications by Clive Belfield


Drawing on data from 12 community colleges, this paper analyzes the resources required to implement guided pathways reforms and examines their feasibility and affordability, as well as their value for students.


This report describes impact findings from an evaluation of multiple measures assessment and placement at seven State University of New York (SUNY) community colleges.


This paper examines the labor market gains for students who enrolled at for-profit colleges after beginning their postsecondary education in community college.


This essay compares broad academic and vocational program goals, embodied skills, tasks, and jobs, with a focus primarily on community college students.

JULY 2019

In this brief, the authors examine how well nine measures of students’ progress in their first year predict student completion in subsequent years, and thus how suitable these early momentum metrics are as leading indicators of the effectiveness of institutional reforms.

JUNE 2019

Using transcript-level data from two community college state systems and a nationally representative survey, this short report examines how course-taking in humanities and liberal arts at community colleges affects transfer and outcomes at four-year colleges.

JUNE 2019

This short report provides a systematic accounting of the provision of humanities and liberal arts education at public colleges in the United States, including community colleges.


This report evaluates the implementation and impacts of Enhancing Programs for IT Certification (EPIC), a program that aims to expand access to computer and medical information technology credentials at six Kentucky community colleges.


This report from the Center for the Analysis for Postsecondary Readiness (CAPR) examines implementation of a multiple measures placement system at seven State University of New York community colleges and presents results on first-term impacts.

JULY 2018

Drawing on lessons from 10 Minnesota and Wisconsin colleges that piloted multiple measures systems for placing students into developmental and college-level courses, this guide provides recommendations for other colleges interested in implementing or testing their own multiple measures systems.

JUNE 2018

This paper identifies the effects of licenses on a set of labor market outcomes for the college-educated workforce using newly available national Current Population Survey data merged with data from the U.S. Department of Labor on state-level, occupation-specific licensing requirements.


Using national, survey, and college-system-level datasets, this paper estimates the association between stackable credentials and earnings, finding weakly positive and inconsistent gains from these award combinations.

MAY 2017

Using data from two state systems, this paper examines whether it is more efficient for bachelor’s degree seekers to start at a two-year college.

APRIL 2017

This paper addresses empirical challenges in identifying stackable credentials, distinguishes three types of stackable awards, and estimates the number of persons who earn such awards. It then discusses the utility of these awards in meeting labor market demands and needs of students.

APRIL 2017

This CAPSEE working paper reviews results from fixed effects models of the earnings gains from completing an associate degree and compares them with ordinary least squares model estimates.

MARCH 2017

This CAPSEE working paper and accompanying brief review recent evidence from eight states on the labor market returns to credit accumulation, certificates, and associate degrees from community colleges using large-scale, statewide administrative datasets.


This chapter in the book Matching Students to Opportunity examines the matching process between students and college programs or majors, primarily in community colleges.

JUNE 2016

Using student-level data from the Tennessee Board of Regents, this paper explores the academic and economic consequences of taking higher or lower credit loads in the first semester and first year of college.

APRIL 2016

This brief examines the corequisite remediation model as it was implemented in Tennessee community colleges in fall 2015 and finds that it is more cost-effective than the prerequisite remediation model the colleges formerly used.


This CAPSEE working paper examines the returns to education for large numbers of young workers in Arkansas over the period before, during, and after the Great Recession.


This CAPSEE working paper examines the returns to math courses relative to the returns to other courses for students who started their postsecondary education at community college.

JULY 2015

This practitioner packet summarizes CCRC’s research on remedial placement at community colleges and considers how including students’ high school transcript information in the assignment process could improve placement accuracy.

JUNE 2015

This paper reviews how an increase in contingent faculty and an increase in class size might affect efficiency at community colleges.

MAY 2015

This publication presents findings on the costs of remedial placement testing at three colleges, and it provides guidance on how other colleges could undertake similar analyses.

MARCH 2015

Using matched college transcript and earnings data on over 80,000 students entering community college during the 2000s, this CAPSEE working paper examines the returns to math courses.


Using a novel method for linking non-completers with completers, this paper calculates the labor market returns to programs of study, accounting both for those who obtain an award and those who do not.


In this study, the authors examine medium-term returns to diplomas, certificates, and degrees for first-time college students who enrolled in the North Carolina Community College System in 2002–03.


This paper introduces a model that uses transcript data matched to credit-level cost data and funding formulae to calculate the implications for efficiency of reforms intended to improve completion rates.


This paper uses administrative data and a rich predictive model to examine the accuracy of remedial screening tests, used either with or instead of high school transcript data to determine remedial assignment.


Using detailed data from three community colleges, the authors of this study employ the ingredients method to estimate the costs to colleges and students of remedial placement systems at community college.


Using the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, this CAPSEE working paper evaluates the postsecondary and labor market outcomes of students who attended for-profit colleges.

MAY 2014

In light of cost-cutting practices used by community colleges today, this article argues that the emphasis of policy and practice should be on improving efficiency: the cost per completion of a high-quality credential.

MARCH 2014

This paper estimates technical efficiency scores across the community college sector; it finds that the colleges have become more efficient over time but finds no evidence of economies of scale.


This paper argues that policymaking has been impaired by neglect of the fact that returns to college are high and by acceptance of the myth that the college affordability crisis is due to colleges' wasteful spending.

JULY 2013

Using data on credit accumulation, award receipt, and earnings, this paper examines whether it is better for students to earn an associate degree before transferring to a four-year college.


This report seeks to understand those aspects of the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) program that best support student learning, progression, and completion.


Thomas Bailey and Clive Belfield consider the role of community colleges, with particular attention to the benefits to workers (as measured by earnings) of certificates and degrees by field of study.

JULY 2012

The three-year study examined the outcomes of almost 3,000 students participating in eight dual enrollment programs across California.

JULY 2012

This NCPR working paper compares outcomes of students who participated in dual enrollment courses through the Concurrent Courses Initiative with those of similar students who did not participate.

MAY 2012

This paper examines the performance of Washington State’s two-year colleges under the Student Achievement Initiative, a policy to reward colleges for improvements in student achievement.

APRIL 2012

This paper gives a preferred economic definition of college efficiency—fiscal and social cost per degree—and assesses the validity of using IPEDS data to calculate efficiency for a community college system.


This paper uses student-level data from a statewide community college system to examine the validity of placement tests and high school information in predicting course grades and college performance.


This article reviews the existing literature on the economic and other benefits of attending community college and considers the methodological challenges associated with calculating earnings gains from attending a community college.


This paper presents findings from a quantitative analysis of the Community College of Baltimore County's Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) for upper level developmental writing students.