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ERIC Number: ED563499
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Jan
Pages: 56
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 35
Tracking Transfer: New Measures of Institutional and State Effectiveness in Helping Community College Students Attain Bachelor's Degrees
Jenkins, Davis; Fink, John
Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University
Increasing the effectiveness of two- to four-year college transfer is critical for meeting national goals for college attainment and promoting upward social mobility. Efforts to improve institutional effectiveness in serving transfer students and state transfer policy have been hampered by a lack of comparable metrics for measuring transfer student outcomes. In this report, the authors propose a common set of metrics for measuring the effectiveness of two- and four-year institutions in enabling degree-seeking students who start college at a community college to transfer to four-year institutions and earn bachelor's degrees. These include three community college measures--transfer-out rate, transfer-with-award rate, and transfer-out bachelor's completion rate--and one measure for four-year institutions--transfer-in bachelor's completion rate. The authors also examine a fifth measure: the overall rate at which the cohort of students who start at a community college in a given state go on to earn a bachelor's degree from a four-year institution. They calculated outcomes for these measures using unit record data from the National Student Clearinghouse on the cohort of more than 700,000 degree-seeking students who entered higher education for the first time through a community college in the fall of 2007. They compared the average outcomes on these measures six years after these students first started college for two-and four-year institutions by institutional characteristics such as urbanicity, student body socioeconomic status, and selectivity (for four-year institutions) and by state. The authors also examined how well different types of institutions serve lower income transfer students compared with their higher income peers. The following are the main takeaways from this research: (1) Institutional practices--not just institutional characteristics--matter; (2) Among four-year institutions, transfer students had better outcomes at public institutions, very selective institutions, and institutions with higher socioeconomic status (SES) students; (3) Outcomes at both two- and four-year institutions varied remarkably by state; (4) Strong baccalaureate completion for community college students requires both high transfer-out rates and high bachelor's completion rates; (5) The connection between earning a community college credential before transferring and the probability of earning a bachelor's degree is not clear in most states; (6) Lower income transfer students had worse outcomes than higher income students on almost all measures; and (7) In a handful of states, the success gap between lower income and higher income transfer students was small or nonexistent. In the conclusion of the report, the authors discuss implications for institutional leaders and policymakers and identify areas for further research.
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; Numerical/Quantitative Data
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Carnegie Corporation of New York; Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust
Authoring Institution: Columbia University, Community College Research Center; Aspen Institute; National Student Clearinghouse Research Center
Identifiers - Location: United States