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ERIC Number: EJ1092311
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1067-1803
Building toward Completion: Five Years into President Obama's 2020 Completion Initiative, Some Community Colleges Find Ways to Move the Needle on Student Success
Pierce, Dennis
Community College Journal, v85 n4 p24-26, 28, 30 Feb-Mar 2015
In 2009, President Barack Obama announced the 2020 College Completion initiative. The goal: By 2020, the United States will have the greatest proportion of citizens who are college graduates, compared with the rest of the world. On a national level, however, the average six-year completion rate hasn't changed much in the more than five years since the president announced that goal. The most recent National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Research Center data show that 55 percent of students who began their postsecondary education in 2008 completed a degree program within six years. That's down slightly from the 56 percent completion rate of the 2007 student cohort. The decline can be traced largely to older and part-time students. Many of these students attend community colleges, contributing to the 39 percent national completion rate at community colleges. The national numbers, however hide individual community college success stories. Most students "have families, jobs, soccer teams, and other competing obligations. The recognition that students need more than just academic support is growing among campus leaders. While 10 years ago community colleges focused heavily on academic advising, now they have shifted their focus toward looking at the student as a whole person. Described in this article is a three-state initiative, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Completion by Design (CBD), that works with community colleges to increase completion and graduation rates for low-income students under the age of 26. National Completion By Design data suggest that 40 percent of the students who drop out or withdraw from school have an A or B average. CBD practitioners have developed a framework called Preventing Loss, Creating Momentum to analyze the student experience across four phases: (1) connection (interest to application); (2) entry (enrollment to gatekeeper courses); (3) progress (entry to area of study to 75 percent requirements completed); and (3) completion (finishing the requirements to attaining the credential). For each of these phases, it's critical to examine how students interact within each institution and identify potential "loss points," as well as ways to help students navigate these experiences. Increasing completion rates requires more than a college president's edict and involves internal and external partners. In order to increase attainment, institutions need to work on a continuum that spans preschool through college. Campus leaders must partner with the K-12 schools and universities in their communities and build a culture of completion that spans the entire institution.
American Association of Community Colleges. One Dupont Circle NW Suite 410, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-728-0200; Fax: 202-833-2467; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Two Year Colleges; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Maryland; Ohio
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A