Teachers College, Columbia University

Improving Student Attainment in Community Colleges: Institutional Characteristics and Policies

By Thomas Bailey, Mariana Alfonso, Juan Carlos Calcagno, Davis Jenkins, Gregory S. Kienzl & D. Timothy Leinbach

This report has four main goals. First, it provides general descriptive information on community college student characteristics and educational outcomes and makes comparisons with other higher education sectors. Second, it discusses the importance of college completion and transfer, reviewing the controversy about whether completion is a meaningful or justifiable standard for a community college. Third, it reviews the state of research on the determinants of student outcomes in community colleges and provides some programmatic guidance and suggestions for improving research in this area. Finally, the authors initiate their own program of empirical research on institutional graduation rates, using both quantitative and qualitative methods to identify institutional practices that are related to improved student outcomes.