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ERIC Number: ED521125
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Apr
Pages: 39
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 27
Institutional Variation in Credential Completion: Evidence from Washington State Community and Technical Colleges. CCRC Working Paper No. 33
Scott-Clayton, Judith; Weiss, Madeline Joy
Community College Research Center, Columbia University
As community colleges search for models of organizational success, new attention is being paid to technical colleges--institutions that primarily offer terminal programs in specific career-related fields rather than focusing on more general academic credentials and transfer programs as many comprehensive institutions do. Recent research observes that in some states, technical colleges have substantially higher completion rates than do comprehensive community colleges. Yet there is scant research available that systematically compares similar students in similar programs at technical and comprehensive colleges. This study uses administrative data from Washington State to compare the outcomes of young, career-technical students across institutions, with and without extensive controls for student characteristics, educational intent, and area of study. This generates three key findings: first, technical and comprehensive colleges tend to serve quite different populations, so a true apples-to-apples comparison requires limiting the analysis to a relatively small fraction (less than 10%) of students enrolled at either institution. Second, at least for this limited subset of career-technical students, technical schools have significantly higher certificate completion rates after three years, with no apparent deficit in associate degree completion. Our third main finding is that the differences in student outcomes "within" the two types of schools are much larger than differences "between" them. Even within this limited group, institution type alone explains a relatively small fraction of the overall variation in student outcomes across institutions. It would thus be unwise for research and policymakers to fixate on this one dimension of difference. (Contains 1 figure, 8 tables and 20 footnotes.)
Community College Research Center. Available from: CCRC Publications. Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street Box 174, New York, NY 10027. Tel: 212-678-3091; Fax: 212-678-3699; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Authoring Institution: Columbia University, Community College Research Center
Identifiers - Location: Washington