The Changing Ecology of Higher Education

Policy Briefs

We have collaborated with national experts to develop policy briefs on critical issues facing broad-access colleges.

Finance Policy and Broad-Access Public Colleges and Universities: Opportunities to Spur Increases in Student Success
By Jane Wellman, Ph.D., Founding Director, Delta Project on Postsecondary Costs


Release date: 15 November 2012

Finance policy plays an important role in supporting success in higher education. Most state finance policies have been developed primarily to address selective research and flagship universities, not broad-access schools. This brief identifies fiscal policies that provide disincentives for broad-access schools to improve student success, as well as opportunities to encourage improved performance at these schools going forward.

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Removing the BA Blinders: Reconceiving Community College Procedures to Improve Student Success
By James E. Rosenbaum, Ph.D., Northwestern University, Janet Rosenbaum, Ph.D., State University of New York, New York City, Jennifer Stephan, Ph.D., American Institutes for Research


Release date: 15 January 2013

The US has made a serious commitment to “college for all,” and community colleges are a primary vehicle for expanding college access. Yet as community colleges have succeeded in opening access to broad populations, their degree completion rates are low. Community colleges have retained many traditional procedures that are counter-productive for disadvantaged students and inappropriate for new labor market demands. Some colleges, however, have devised alternative procedures that are better adapted to real student needs. This brief describes common organizational failures and examines alternative procedures that enable student success.

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What We Don’t Know about Community College Students: The Case for a Better Understanding of Student Pathways
By Peter Riley Bahr, Ph.D., Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education, University of Michigan


Release date: 15 February 2013

Policymakers, administrators, and faculty would benefit from a richer understanding of the variety of pathways students take through community colleges. In accordance, this brief advocates for a “deconstructive approach” to the study of community college student pathways. Such an approach draws upon both quantitative and qualitative data to deconstruct student pathways and elaborate the relationships between various pathways and outcomes of interest, such as successful remediation of skill deficiencies, credential completion, and transfer to a four-year institution.

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