Ideas For Improving Community College Graduation Rates

Sharon Rieger's picture
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

There's a reason that so many students in U.S. community colleges don't finish: not enough enter specific, college-level programs, according to Davis Jenkins, who has more than 25 years of experience as a researcher, evaluator, consultant and program manager on projects related to education and employment in the U.S. and abroad.

The Hechinger Report spoke with Davis, a senior researcher at the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University, before the second anniversary this month of President Barack Obama's American Graduation Initiative.

Q: Your recent research points to a major reason that most students who enter higher education through community colleges fail to earn postsecondary credentials. You also offer some potential solutions. What must community colleges do to get more students to graduate?

A: We have to think about how to take students with clear goals and knowledge of college and guide them to enter programs that are well-structured and lead to something. A key thing that our research - and other research - points to is that most students who enter community colleges don't even get into a program, either because they are stuck in remedial education or they drop out.

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