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ERIC Number: EJ864133
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Sep-2
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0277-4232
Community College a Research Puzzle
Viadero, Debra
Education Week, v29 n2 p1, 14 Sep 2009
When President Barack Obama unveiled his plans this summer for a $12 billion federal investment in the nation's community colleges, he said he wanted the initiative to yield an additional 5 million community college graduates by 2020. Research suggests that reaching that goal may be a tall order. Community colleges have abysmal graduation rates: Only one in 10 students who started community college in 2002 had earned an associate's degree three years later, according to a recent paper from the Washington-based Brookings Institution. Six years after they start school, other studies show, half of community college students have earned an associate's degree or a certificate or transferred to a four-year college. Further, studies have only just begun to shed light on where the barriers are for students and how colleges can help students overcome them. The publicly funded institutions serve different purposes. They can be stepping stones to four-year degrees for first-time college students looking to transfer to a four-year college or a source of occupational and technical training for older adults seeking associate's degrees or certificates. They also offer noncredit courses in areas ranging from computer skills to English-language instruction. Because of their low tuition rates and open-enrollment policies, community colleges offer the only chance of earning a college degree for many low-income students, first-generation immigrants, minority students, and laid-off workers. That's important in the larger economic scheme, experts say, because studies show that students, especially women, with even one year of postsecondary study earn 15 percent to 20 percent more than students whose educational careers ended at high school. But researchers and federal policymakers have long neglected community colleges, focusing instead on improving K-12 education. But as recent studies have begun to show the United States falling behind some other developed nations in producing college graduates, people have begun to realize that while there are a lot of students coming from around the world to attend Ivy League and flagship schools, typical institutions don't seem to be doing so well. That realization has prompted a number of national foundations to invest millions of dollars over the past five years in new initiatives and new research aimed at improving community colleges. Those studies show that a major hurdle to a college degree for many students are the remedial--now called developmental--classes that students take to bring their academic skills up to the college level.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States