Teachers College, Columbia University

All Publications


Using Guided Pathways to Build Cross-Sector Pathways Partnerships

Based on fieldwork at four guided pathways colleges, this report introduces a cross-sector pathways model and highlights emerging practices and strategies that community colleges are using to build stronger connections with employers, universities, and K-12 schools.


How to Achieve More Equitable Community College Student Outcomes: Lessons From Six Years of CCRC Research on Guided Pathways

This report describes how CCRC’s thinking about guided pathways has evolved since the publication of Redesigning America’s Community Colleges in 2015.


Funding Guided Pathways: A Guide for Community College Leaders

Drawing on research at six institutions, this guide is intended to help community college leaders understand the costs involved in implementing guided pathways reforms and develop plans for funding and sustaining them.


The Dual Enrollment Playbook: A Guide to Equitable Acceleration for Students

Based on research conducted in three states, this report identifies five principles that undergird the strategies and practices of equitable dual enrollment partnerships.

JUNE 2020

Unpacking Program Enrollments and Completions With Equity in Mind

This guide presents a set of example data analyses colleges can replicate to examine whether underserved groups of students are equitably represented in programs that lead to higher opportunity outcomes for employment and/or baccalaureate transfer.

MAY 2020

Redesigning Community College Student Onboarding Through Guided Pathways

This practitioner packet provides guidance to colleges seeking to redesign their new student onboarding practices to better help students explore, choose, and plan a program of study best suited to their interests and aspirations.


Redesigning Your College Through Guided Pathways: Lessons on Managing Whole-College Reform From the AACC Pathways Project

This report and the five case studies that accompany it describe how institutions are managing the broad-based transformation of programs, student services, and related support systems using the guided pathways model.

JULY 2019

Early Momentum Metrics: Leading Indicators for Community College Improvement

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.


KCTCS Enhancing Programs for IT Certification (EPIC)

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.


Building Guided Pathways to Community College Student Success: Promising Practices and Early Evidence From Tennessee

This report describes the guided pathways reforms taking place at the 13 community colleges in the Tennessee Board of Regents, along with promising trends in first-year momentum among entering students.

JUNE 2018

Strengthening Transfer Paths to a Bachelor’s Degree: Identifying Effective Two-Year to Four-Year College Partnerships

Using National Student Clearinghouse data, this paper introduces a two-stage, input-adjusted, value-added analytic framework for identifying partnerships of two- and four-year institutions that are particularly effective in enabling students to transfer and earn bachelor’s degrees.

APRIL 2018

What We Are Learning About Guided Pathways

This practitioner packet describes the guided pathways reform model; presents case studies of how colleges are approaching key pathways practices, with promising evidence on student success from early adopters; and outlines steps and a timeline for implementing guided pathways reforms.


Using Data Mining to Explore Why Community College Transfer Students Earn Bachelor’s Degrees With Excess Credits

This CCRC working paper uses data-mining techniques to analyze student transcripts from two states and identify variables associated with excess credits among bachelor’s degree completers who started at a community college.


Tackling Transfer: A Guide to Convening Community Colleges and Universities to Improve Transfer Student Outcomes

This guide aims to help state entities organize workshops for two- and four-year institutions to improve transfer and graduation outcomes for their students through data analysis and self-reflection of institutional practices and the development of action plans.


How to Measure Community College Effectiveness in Serving Transfer Students

This guide provides instructions for community colleges that want to use National Student Clearinghouse data to assess their own effectiveness and that of particular transfer partnerships in helping students to transfer and complete bachelor’s degrees.


Takes Two to Tango: Essential Practices of Highly Effective Transfer Partnerships

This journal article offers a set of essential transfer practices culled from national fieldwork to two- and four-year institutional transfer partnerships identified using NSC data as highly effective in supporting transfer student success.


What Happens to Students Who Take Community College "Dual Enrollment" Courses in High School?

This report uses student enrollment and degree records from the National Student Clearinghouse to examine who enrolls in community college dual enrollment courses and what happens to them after high school.


Building Blocks: Laying the Groundwork for Guided Pathways Reform in Ohio

This report describes how Ohio’s two-year colleges are approaching guided pathways reforms, focusing on innovations they have implemented in recent years that can serve as building blocks as they seek to transform their policies, practices, and culture following the guided pathways model.

MAY 2017

Is It Really Cheaper to Start at a Community College? The Consequences of Inefficient Transfer for Community College Students Seeking Bachelor’s Degrees

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

Implementing Guided Pathways: Early Insights From the AACC Pathways Colleges

This report provides insight into how colleges are planning and implementing “guided pathways” reforms based on the early work of 30 colleges participating in the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) Pathways Project.


Early Momentum Metrics: Why They Matter for College Improvement

In this brief, the authors propose three measures of “early momentum” that colleges can use to gauge whether institutional reforms are improving student outcomes.


Policy Levers to Strengthen Community College Transfer Student Success in Texas

Based on three sets of analyses, this report to the Greater Texas Foundation recommends ways that state policy could help to improve outcomes for community college transfer students in Texas.


Matching Talents to Careers: From Self-Directed to Guided Pathways

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

Momentum: The Academic and Economic Value of a 15-Credit First-Semester Course Load for College Students in Tennessee

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.

JUNE 2016

Guided Pathways to Careers: Four Dimensions of Structure in Community College Career-Technical Programs

This study documents the specific ways that community college career-technical programs are structured to support student success, and it provides a framework for examining structure to inform practice and guide future research efforts.

MAY 2016

The Transfer Playbook: Essential Practices for Two- and Four-Year Colleges

This playbook is a practical guide to designing and implementing a key set of practices that will help community colleges and their four-year college partners improve bachelor’s completion rates for students who start at community colleges.

APRIL 2016

Is Corequisite Remediation Cost-Effective? Early Findings From Tennessee

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.


Tracking Transfer: New Measures of Institutional and State Effectiveness in Helping Community College Students Attain Bachelor’s Degrees

This report uses five metrics to measure the effectiveness of two- and four-year institutions in enabling community college students to transfer to four-year institutions and earn bachelor’s degrees.

APRIL 2015

Redesigning America's Community Colleges: A Clearer Path to Student Success

The authors of this book argue that to substantially increase student completion, community colleges must engage in fundamental redesign, and outline research-based strategies to help colleges achieve this goal.

APRIL 2015

What We Know About Guided Pathways

This practitioner packet summarizes evidence supporting the guided pathways reform model, describes how one college implemented guided pathways, and offers tips for getting started on guided pathways reforms.


What We Know About Transfer

This research overview reviews findings on transfer from community colleges to four-year colleges, including student outcomes, barriers to transfer, the economic benefits of transfer, and potential benefits to four-year colleges.


Strengthening Program Pathways Through Transformative Change

This chapter reports on a major college-wide effort to smooth students’ paths as they enter the college, choose a program, and progress to a credential.


Can Community Colleges Afford to Improve Completion? Measuring the Costs and Efficiency Effects of College Reforms

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.

MAY 2014

Can Community Colleges Continue to Do More With Less?

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.


Community College Economics for Policymakers: The One Big Fact and the One Big Myth

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.


Get With the Program ... and Finish It: Building Guided Pathways to Accelerate Student Completion

This publication describes efforts by a growing number of colleges and universities to create “guided pathways” designed to increase the rate at which students enter and complete a program of study.

MAY 2013

Access and Success With Less: Improving Productivity in Broad-Access Postsecondary Institutions

This article reviews research on what community colleges and less selective public universities can do to graduate more students at a lower cost without sacrificing access or quality.

APRIL 2013

A Growing Culture of Evidence? Findings From a Survey on Data Use at Achieving the Dream Colleges in Washington State

This report examines the use of data on students by faculty, administrators, and student services staff at six Washington State colleges that joined Achieving the Dream in 2006–2007.

APRIL 2013

Principles of Redesign: Promising Approaches to Transforming Student Outcomes

This publication presents eight core ideas to help community college leaders and practitioners address the fundamental challenges to student success.

APRIL 2013

Nuances of Completion: Improving Student Outcomes by Unpacking the Numbers

This publication examines the hidden complexity of completion outcome data and offers an approach to teasing out the complex factors that affect student completion in order to boost student success.

APRIL 2013

Understanding the Student Experience Through the Loss/Momentum Framework: Clearing the Path to Completion

This report introduces an approach to examining students’ college experiences, identifying factors that catalyze or impede their progress, and using these insights to improve student outcomes.

MARCH 2013

Metrics, Dollars, and Systems Change: Learning From Washington State's Student Achievement Initiative to Design Effective Postsecondary Performance Funding Policies

Based on findings from a three-year study of Washington State’s Student Achievement Initiative, this policy brief offers lessons for state leaders seeking to design effective higher education performance funding systems.


Washington State Student Achievement Initiative Policy Study: Final Report

This report assesses how and to what extent the Student Achievement Initiative has encouraged two-year public colleges in Washington State to take steps to improve student achievement.


Progress in the First Five Years: An Evaluation of Achieving the Dream Colleges in Washington State

This report describes the progress of six colleges in implementing Achieving the Dream’s “culture of evidence” principles for institutional improvement and charts trends in student outcomes over time.


Contextualized College Transition Strategies for Adult Basic Skills Students: Learning from Washington State’s I-BEST Program Model

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.


New Evidence of Success for Community College Remedial English Students: Tracking the Outcomes of Students in the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP)

This paper presents the findings from a follow-up quantitative analysis of the Community College of Baltimore County’s Accelerated Learning Program (ALP).


Not Just Math and English: Courses That Pose Obstacles to Community College Completion

This paper offers methods for identifying introductory courses that are obstacles to college completion, and the relative extent of the obstacle each poses.


Structure in Community College Career-Technical Programs: A Qualitative Analysis

This study examines the structure of community college career-technical programs and its association with program completion.


Get With the Program: Accelerating Community College Students' Entry Into and Completion of Programs of Study

This paper argues that to improve completion rates, colleges must help students enter programs as soon as possible; it presents a method for measuring program entry and completion rates using transcript data.


Charting Pathways to Completion for Low-Income Community College Students

Administrative data from Washington State is used to chart the educational pathways of first-time community college students, with a focus on young, socioeconomically disadvantaged students.

APRIL 2011

How I-BEST Works: Findings From a Field Study of Washington State's Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training Program

The I-BEST program at Washington State's community and technical colleges integrates basic skills education with vocational training and has increased completion rates for participating students.

MARCH 2011

Performance Incentives to Improve Community College Completion: Learning from Washington State's Student Achievement Initiative

This policy brief examines key issues raised by Washington State's experience with the Student Achievement Initiative model of performance funding for community and technical colleges.


Introduction to the CCRC Assessment of Evidence Series

This paper summarizes findings from eight working papers (the Assessment of Evidence Series) that synthesized research on strategies for improving outcomes for community college students, and makes four broad recommendations based on these findings.


Redesigning Community Colleges for Completion: Lessons from Research on High-Performance Organizations (Assessment of Evidence Series)

Based on practices found to be effective among a broad range of high-performance organizations, this paper outlines practical steps community colleges can take to bring about continuous improvement in student learning and progression.


Turning the Tide: Five Years of Achieving the Dream in Community Colleges

This interim report examines the experiences of the first 26 colleges to join Achieving the Dream, which helps community colleges collect and analyze student performance data to increase student success.


A Model for Accelerating Academic Success of Community College Remedial English Students: Is the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) Effective and Affordable?

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.


Washington State's Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training Program (I-BEST): New Evidence of Effectiveness

CCRC examined educational and labor market outcomes of participants in I-BEST, which aims to help adult basic skills students succeed in postsecondary occupational education and training.

JULY 2010

Using State Data to Promote Continuous Improvement of Workforce Programs: Guidance for States Preparing Applications to the U.S. DOL Workforce Data Quality Initiative

This brief describes how state workforce agencies can link education and workforce data to monitor how well their education and workforce development investments are meeting labor market needs.


Strategies for Promoting Gatekeeper Course Success Among Students Needing Remediation: Research Report for the Virginia Community College System

CCRC examined student characteristics, course-taking patterns, and other factors associated with higher probabilities that students who require remediation will take and pass gatekeeper courses.

MAY 2009

Educational Outcomes of I-BEST, Washington State Community and Technical College System's Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training Program: Findings from a Multivariate Analysis

This paper presents findings from a study on the outcomes of students participating in Washington State's I-BEST program, which combines basic skills instruction with career-technical instruction.

MARCH 2009

Achieving the Dream Colleges in Pennsylvania and Washington State: Early Progress Toward Building a Culture of Evidence

This report describes the progress made by the 13 Pennsylvania and Washington State community colleges that comprise Round 3 of the Achieving the Dream initiative after planning and one year of implementation.


Evidence-Based Decision Making in Community Colleges: Findings from a Survey of Faculty and Administrator Data Use at Achieving the Dream Colleges

Based on a survey of faculty and administrators at 41 Achieving the Dream colleges, this study examines what specific data college faculty and administrators use in their jobs and the extent to which they use data analysis to design and improve the impact of college programs and services.


Formative Evaluation of the Student Achievement Initiative "Learning Year"

This report presents findings from an independent qualitative review of Washington State's Student Achievement Initiative, which rewards colleges for improvements in student outcomes.


Community College Student Success: What Institutional Characteristics Make a Difference?

This paper describes how researchers used data on student characteristics and educational outcomes from several federal government sources to explore the legitimacy of the various ways that college effectiveness can be assessed by using measures of student success.


Using State Student Unit Record Data to Increase Community College Student Success

This article describes lessons learned by states that are using student unit record data to improve outcomes for community college students and how states can strengthen their use of data.

APRIL 2008

CCRC Research Tools No. 3: A Short Guide to "Tipping Point" Analyses of Community College Student Labor Market Outcomes

This guide aims to help community colleges and state agencies analyze the labor market outcomes of their programs and identify opportunities for improving students' employment outcomes.


CCRC Research Tools No. 2: Using Longitudinal Data to Increase Community College Student Success: A Guide to Measuring Milestone and Momentum Point Attainment

This guide is intended to help researchers in colleges and state agencies to use longitudinal student unit record data to create simple and meaningful statistics on student achievement.


Promising Practices for Community College Developmental Education

This report, written for the Connecticut Community College System, summarizes key findings on effective developmental education practice.


Does Age of Entrance Affect Community College Completion Probabilities? Evidence From a Discrete-Time Hazard Model

This article reveals unique findings from a study that compared educational outcomes of older and traditional-age students.

JUNE 2007

Do Student Success Courses Actually Help Community College Students Succeed?

This brief reports the findings from a CCRC study on the effectiveness of "student success" courses at Florida community colleges.

MAY 2007

Building a Culture of Evidence for Community College Student Success: Early Progress in the Achieving the Dream Initiative

This report describes the early progress that the first 27 Achieving the Dream colleges made after one year of implementation.

APRIL 2007

Institutional Research and the Culture of Evidence at Community Colleges

This report, the first in CCRC's Culture of Evidence Series, presents findings from a CCRC study on how community colleges are using their own data and research to work toward improving student success.

MARCH 2007

Is Student Success Labeled Institutional Failure? Student Goals and Graduation Rates in the Accountability Debate at Community Colleges

This working paper explores the impact of students' reasons for enrollment and educational expectations on their outcomes and, thus, on the performance of their college.

MARCH 2007

What Can Student Right-to-Know Graduation Rates Tell Us About Community College Performance?

This working paper examines the validity of the Student Right-to-Know (SRK) graduation rates as measures of community college performance.


Stepping Stones to a Degree: The Impact of Enrollment Pathways and Milestones on Community College Student Outcomes

This paper presents findings from CCRC's study on the experiences and educational outcomes of older and younger community college students.


Is Student-Right-to-Know All You Should Know? An Analysis of Community College Graduation Rates

This working paper presents a research model that CCRC has developed to better understand the effects of institutional characteristics on student outcomes.

JULY 2006

CCRC Research Tools No. 1: Using Census Data to Classify Community College Students by Socioeconomic Status and Community Characteristics

This brief describes the methodology CCRC researchers used to estimate the socioeconomic status of individual students in the Washington State community and technical college system.

MAY 2006

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

This study seeks to identify policies and practices of community colleges that are effective in enabling their students to succeed in postsecondary education.

APRIL 2005

Building Pathways to Success for Low-Skill Adult Students: Lessons for Community College Policy and Practice from a Statewide Longitudinal Tracking Study

This report presents findings from a first-of-its kind study on the experience and outcomes of low-skill adults in community colleges.


Community College Low-Income and Minority Student Completion Study: Descriptive Statistics From the 1992 High School Cohort

This report summarizes statistics on access and attainment in higher education, focusing on community college students, using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988.


The Effects of Institutional Factors on the Success of Community College Students

This paper examines institutional characteristics that affect the success of community college students as measured by the individual student probability of completing a certificate or degree or transferring to a baccalaureate institution.


What We Know About Community College Low-Income and Minority Student Outcomes

This report summarizes the latest available national statistics on access and attainment by low-income and racial/ethnic minority community college students.


Improving Student Attainment in Community Colleges: Institutional Characteristics and Policies

This report reviews the state of research on the determinants of student outcomes in community colleges and initiates a program of empirical research on institutional graduation rates.


Outsourcing of Instruction at Community Colleges

This report presents the findings of exploratory research designed to identify the characteristics of the outsourcing of instruction at community colleges and the forces that promote or block its spread.

APRIL 2003

Community Colleges and the Equity Agenda: What the Record Shows

This paper discusses the economic returns to education for African American and Hispanic students and the performance of community colleges in increasing college access for ethnic minority students.

MARCH 2003

The Potential of Community Colleges as Bridges to Opportunity for the Disadvantaged: Can It Be Achieved on a Large Scale?

This report examines community colleges' successes and failures in their role as a bridge to opportunity for disadvantaged students and discusses changes they could make to be more effective in this role.