Teachers College, Columbia University

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

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

CCRC’s 2015 book Redesigning America’s Community Colleges: A Clearer Path to Student Success catalyzed a national community college reform movement. Since its publication, hundreds of community colleges have sought to implement whole-college reforms using the guided pathways model outlined in the book, either on their own or as part of a national or state initiative. CCRC has studied the adoption, implementation, costs, and effects of these reforms at over 100 colleges and interacted with thousands of practitioners implementing guided pathways through institutes, webinars, and workshops. In the process, CCRC has deepened its understanding of how community colleges can improve students’ experiences and outcomes and advance educational equity through guided pathways reforms.

This report describes how CCRC’s thinking about guided pathways has evolved in five areas:

  • program organization and design,
  • new student onboarding,
  • remediation and academic support,
  • ongoing student advising, and
  • teaching and learning.

For each area, the authors discuss what CCRC has learned from studying the implementation of guided pathways at colleges across the country, parts of the model that were underemphasized or mainly theoretical in 2015, and practices that research suggests are critical to achieving more equitable student outcomes and ensuring community colleges’ survival in a post-COVID environment. The report concludes by offering high-level recommendations for colleges engaging in guided pathways reforms and identifying next frontiers for guided pathways practice and research.