Next Frontier Guided Pathways Research: Studying the Effects of Pathways Reforms

November 2017–August 2020

Since the publication of Redesigning America’s Community Colleges, CCRC has continued to conduct research on guided pathways. A key focus of our work thus far has been to better understand what practices colleges are implementing as part of guided pathways reform and how are they managing the change process.

Thanks to the spread of guided pathways reforms nationally, some colleges and college systems are far enough along that we can begin to address questions about the effects of guided pathways that are increasingly being raised in the field. To this end, CCRC is examining three sets of questions related to the effects of these reforms:

  • Effectiveness. Are guided pathways reforms leading to improved college performance measured by short-term leading indicators that are predictors of longer-term success, but also on key longer-term outcomes such as completion, transfer, and employment?
  • Equity. Are the reforms affecting different student groups differently?  Specifically, are they helping to close gaps in achievement, particularly among students of color, low-income students, and older students?
  • Costs and cost-effectiveness. What are the costs of guided pathways reforms? Are they cost-effective? What are the economic implications of these reforms for students, colleges, and taxpayers?

In this project, CCRC is partnering with the Tennessee Board of Regents and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, systems that are promoting the adoption of guided pathways by their two-year colleges statewide. Based on this work, CCRC will produce a series of practitioner-oriented research reports and briefs as well as a field guide with associated tools to help practitioners implementing pathways measure the effectiveness and costs of their reforms.

This project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Project Lead

Davis Jenkins