ERIC Number: ED485511
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Evaluating Academic Programs in California's Community Colleges
Gill, Andrew M.; Leigh, Duane E.
Public Policy Institute of California
Community colleges have traditionally received funding based on student enrollment, which is usually considered an input in the educational process. Recently, however, legislation enacted at the federal and state levels specifies that funding is to hinge, as least in part, on student performance--an output measure. Performance standards improve resource allocation by identifying colleges whose programs do not measure up to the standards so that remedial action can be taken or sanctions imposed. At the same time, performance standards applied uniformly across community colleges may be counterproductive if colleges differ significantly in their missions. Using data for community colleges in the California Community College System (CCCS), this study provides empirical evidence on the extent to which community colleges choose different missions. Three interrelated questions were asked. First, do colleges differ in their missions as reflected in the mix of academic programs they offer? The size and complexity of the CCCS make it likely that individual colleges will choose different missions, which measure as differences in curriculum "emphasis" and "specialization." Differences in curriculum emphasis are defined by systematic deviations in the curriculums offered by individual colleges from those offered by a "typical" or average college. Curriculum specialization goes a step further by linking an emphasis on one curriculum measure with a de-emphasis on another. If colleges do appear to differ in their missions, our second question is whether observed differences in emphasis and specialization can be explained using measurable indicators of college-specific characteristics and community needs. If community colleges differ in ways that are linked to these explanatory variables, the third question is whether the evidence may be useful in developing guidelines for evaluating community college performance. The following are appended: (1) Technical Detail on Measures of Curriculum Mix; (2) Technical Detail on Factor Analysis; (3) Data Sources and Technical Details Used to Construct the Explanatory Variables; and (4) Data set for California Community Colleges.
Descriptors: Community Colleges, Program Evaluation, Resource Allocation, Statewide Planning, State Colleges, Curriculum, Factor Analysis, State Standards, Program Effectiveness, Community Colleges
Public Policy Institute of California, 500 Washington Street, Suite 800, San Francisco, CA 94111. Tel: 415-291-4400; Fax: 415-291-4401.
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Two Year Colleges; Higher Education
Authoring Institution: Public Policy Inst. of California, San Francisco.