NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED560063
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Sep
Pages: 14
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 19
Changing Community Colleges: Early Lessons from Completion by Design
Grossman, Jean Baldwin; Quint, Janet; Gingrich, Jessica; Cerna, Oscar; Diamond, John; Levine, Andrew; Willard, Jacklyn
Community colleges enroll almost half of the undergraduates in the United States and provide students the option to earn a degree at a lower cost and offer more flexible class schedules than four-year colleges. However, among first-time, full-time degree-seeking students entering public two-year schools, only about 20 percent graduate with a degree within three years. In this context, community colleges are under pressure: (1) To significantly increase the number of students who attain their educational goals (obtain a degree or certificate or complete a program of study); (2) To ensure that the college "works" for a diverse group of students (all ages; ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds; and college-readiness levels); and (3) To do so in a cost-efficient manner. (Competition for public funds is fierce and the state funding formulas used to provide most of a community college's income are changing.) This brief aims to provide college and higher education system leaders, as well as concerned funders and policymakers, with a framework for thinking about systemic change. It also provides insights from the Completion by Design (CBD) experience that can help others considering similar initiatives to develop implementation plans that are sufficiently broad and appropriately staffed, structured, and resourced. CBD is a five-year initiative that works with nine community colleges in three states. The goal of CBD is to substantially increase completion rates for these students, while holding down costs and maintaining access and quality. The brief first explains how systemic change is different from other, more incremental changes that colleges often implement and why systemic change is difficult but necessary. It then draws lessons from the experiences of five CBD case study colleges during the first two years of implementation.
MDRC. 16 East 34th Street 19th Floor, New York, NY 10016-4326. Tel: 212-532-3200; Fax: 212-684-0832; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Two Year Colleges; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: Policymakers; Practitioners
Language: English
Sponsor: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Authoring Institution: MDRC