Friday, October 22, 2010

First Meeting of Committee on Measures of Student Success

The Committee on Measures of Student Success met for the first time this week to determine how to best measure the success of community college students. The federal committee has been appointed to advise the U.S. Secretary of Education on how to best meet the completion and graduation rate requirements set forth in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. The 15-member committee is chaired by Thomas Bailey, a professor of economics and education at Columbia University and founder of the Community College Research Center.

After discussions on many topics and hearing presentations by representatives from community college associations, the committee members agreed to examine transfers, developmental education, student learning, and employment. Community College Times writer Matthew Dembicki reported that a main topic of discussion was how to capture data about community college students transferring to four-year institutions, as there is currently little data to gauge success of transfer students. Bailey said, “If we can’t take into account transfers, this will really be distorted and inaccurate,” and committee members agreed that measuring success of transfer students is critical.

For example, a significant number of students “swirl”—that is, they concurrently take courses at the local community college and at a four-year institution. Likewise, many high school students are dually enrolled in college courses. Teachers and instructors at high schools and two-year colleges know these situations well and would agree that, although these students are difficult to classify, measurements of their success must also be reported for the data to be accurate.

Public Comment
The committee’s first meeting has adjourned until February of 2011. If you have ideas or comments for the Committee on Measures of Student Success, you can email them to studentsuccess@ed.gov.

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