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Paper Suggests Strategies to Improve Community Colleges

If you are interested in what it will take to get more students to complete community college, check out a new paper released today by the Community College Research Center.

Redesigning Community Colleges for Completion: Lessons From Research On High-Performance Organizations, by Davis Jenkins, is one in a series of working papers on strategies for improving the success of students who attend community college.

There has been lots of talk about the importance of increasing the supply of educated workers over the coming decade. And community colleges are critical in this effort as they enroll nearly half the nation's undergraduates and more often serve low-income and academically underprepared populations.

The CCRC series suggests that community colleges need to move beyond small-scale programs and instead engage in broad institutional reform.

Jenkins' paper looks at eight practices common among high-performance organizations: leadership, focus on the customer, functional alignment, process improvement, use of measurement, employee involvement and professional development, and external linkages.

To boost graduation rates, the paper recommends community colleges:

-Partner with high schools (and adult basic skills programs) to align curricula and ensure students are motivated and prepared to succeed in college;

-Cultivate leadership for improved student success throughout the college;

-Empower faculty to establish common learning outcomes and assessments for academic programs;

-Rethink college policies to help students better negotiate the pathways they take through the institution;

-Engage student services staff in developing protocols of recommended practice;

The other CCRC papers released today include:

The Shapeless River: Does a Lack of Structure Inhibit Students' Progress at Community Colleges? by Judith Scott-Clayton.

Online Learning: Does It Help Low-Income and Underprepared Students? by Shanna Jaggars.

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