January 2015–December 2016
CCRC and the Chicago Civic Consulting Alliance engaged in an action research and capacity-building project with City Colleges of Chicago (CCC). Recently, CCC has undertaken a major "reinvention" initiative to dramatically increase completion and transfer rates, a central component of which is a "guided pathways" curricular model for the system's more than 115,000 students. With this initiative, CCC places itself at the forefront of a national movement aimed at improving student learning and success by building more clearly defined, educationally coherent program pathways.
CCRC's two-year applied research project had three strands, each designed to answer questions facing CCC and other colleges and universities that are implementing the guided pathways approach:
- Charting and analyzing student progression into and through program pathways. This work aimed to help guide and accelerate ongoing efforts by colleges to build strong program pathways for students.
- Better understanding student program pathway decisions. This work can support efforts to improve advising and create more effective messaging that will help students make better choices.
- Measuring program labor market returns and net benefits. Analysis of labor market returns allows CCC to document the economic returns of its programs to students and their families and to Chicago taxpayers. It also allows CCRC to estimate how these returns can be enhanced by CCC's reinvention efforts.
The project produced recommendations for City Colleges leadership and guidance for practitioners more generally on strategies for guiding community college program decisions.