Tracking Transfer: Helping Community College Students Attain Bachelor’s Degrees

Posted by Columbia University on February 1, 2016

Tracking Transfer: New Measures of Institutional and State Effectiveness in Helping Community College Students Attain Bachelor’s Degrees
By: Davis Jenkins & John Fink

This report is designed to help improve transfer student outcomes by helping institutional leaders and policymakers better understand current outcomes and providing them with metrics for benchmarking their performance.

The authors propose a common set of metrics for measuring the effectiveness of two- and four-year institutions in enabling degree-seeking students who start college at a community college to transfer to four-year institutions and earn bachelor’s degrees. These include three community college measures—transfer-out rate, transfer-with-award rate, and transfer-out bachelor’s completion rate—and one measure for four-year institutions—transfer-in bachelor’s completion rate. They also examine a fifth measure: the overall rate at which the cohort of students who start at a community college in a given state go on to earn a bachelor’s degree from a four-year institution. Using a rich set of data from the National Student Clearinghouse on more than 700,000 degree-seeking students who first enrolled in community college in 2007, the authors calculated the average outcomes on these measures six years after these students entered college.

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