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Completion Agenda

Policy Meets Pathways: A State Policy Agenda for Transformational Change

This Jobs for the Future report argues for state-level, structural change to improve completion rates for low-income community college students. Many of the ideas draw on best practices in workforce development, such as guided pathways to build student engagement and minimize unnecessary credits. The publication highlights policy changes from Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio, three states that are part of the Completion by Design initiative.

Jobs for the Future and Completion by Design, December 2014
Lara K. Couturier



The Game Changers: Are States Implementing the Best Reforms
in Order to Get More College Graduates?

This report summarizes several strategies that states and colleges could undertake to help more students graduate on time. The strategies include: Performance funding, in which states allocate funds to public institutions based on college completion rather than enrollment; Co-requisite, rather than pre-requisite, remediation; Encourage students to take a larger course load, emphasizing that “full-time is 15” credits in order to graduate on time; Structured scheduling, to give predictability to students who juggle school, work, and family responsibilities; and Guided pathways to success, mapping out degree plans within “meta-majors.”

While some people may object to Complete College America’s narrow focus -- degrees only, in no more than 150% of the expected time – there are several good examples in this report of how two-year and four-year colleges have implemented strategies to improve completion rates.

Complete College America, October 2013


Cornerstones of Completion: State Policy Support for Accelerated,
Structured Pathways to College Credentials and Transfer

This report gives ten “high-leverage policy recommendations” to promote college completion. The recommendations involve one of four steps in the college process: connection; entry; progress; and completion. Many colleges have begun implementing these strategies, through the Completion by Design initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. However, having state-level funding, legislative changes, and other types of support will promote more widespread implementation.

Jobs for the Future and Completion by Design, December 2012.
Lara Couturier


College Productivity: Four Steps to Finishing First
An Agenda for Increasing College Productivity to Create a Better-Educated Society

This report emphasizes the need for more two-year and four-year college graduates (graduating with degrees and other credentials), and identifies four policy steps to fulfill President Obama’s goal of once again being the first in the world in the number of college graduates. The four steps are: performance funding; student incentives; new models; and business efficiencies. The report gives several examples happening in different states, as well as lessons learned.

Lumina Foundation

Redesigning Community Colleges for Completion: Lessons from Research on High-Performance Organizations (CCRC Working Paper No. 24, Assessment of Evidence Series)

This paper argues that in order to increase rates of student completion on a large scale, community colleges will have to make fundamental changes in the way they operate. Based on practices found to be effective among a broad range of high-performance organizations, the paper outlines practical steps community colleges can take to bring about continuous improvement in student learning and progression.

Community College Research Center (2011)
Davis Jenkins


Taking the Next Step: The Promise of Intermediate Measures for Meeting Postsecondary Completion Goals

In Taking the Next Step,the authorsassess the state of the emerging field of defining, measuring, reporting, and rewarding student progress in achieving "intermediate measures of success.”

Taking the Next Step distinguishes between milestones that must be attained in order to get to completion and success indicators that increase a student's chances of completion. The authors review 11 cases of the use of intermediate measures by multistate, single-state or single-system, and multi-institution initiatives, noting differences in approaches, definitions, and uses of "milestones” data.

Jobs for the Future and Achieving the Dream
Jeremy Offenstein and Nancy Shulock


Strategies for Promoting Gate Keeper Course Success
Among Students Needing Remediation

This report discusses findings and recommendations from a CCRC study designed to help community colleges develop strategies for improving the rate at which academically underprepared students take and pass initial college-level (or "gatekeeper") courses in math and English. Based on analysis of more than 24,000 first-time students who enrolled in a Virginia community college in summer or fall 2004, the study examines student characteristics, course-taking patterns, and other factors associated with higher probabilities that students who require remediation will take and pass math and English gatekeeper courses.

Community College Research Center
Josipa Roksa, Davis Jenkins, Shanna Smith Jaggars, Matthew Zeidenberg & Sung-Woo Cho

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