Here are three reports to check out this month.
- The latest data from National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Research Center confirm the continued drop of students attending community college during the Covid pandemic, though at a much lower rate. The NSC Research Center report also supports a promising sign: Enrollment of first-time freshmen at public two-year colleges may be stabilizing. Overall enrollment at public two-year colleges is down -3.4% (161,800 students) for fall 2021, but among first-time freshmen in the sector, enrollment is up 0.4% (or about 3,000 students) to 711,717 for this fall. In fall 2020, community college freshmen enrollment tanked by -18.2% (or 157,551 students). In fall 2019, it was down -0.1%. The increase among community college freshmen is due to an increase in students over age 24. That population saw enrollment jump 16.1% (or 11,896 students) this fall to 85,700. Among community college freshmen ages 24 and younger, enrollment this fall dipped -1.4% (or 8,914 students) to 626,017.
- According to research from MDRC and the Community College Research Center (CCRC), using only standardized placement test scores to determine which new college students should take developmental coursework is inadequate, as many students may be unnecessarily assigned to developmental courses. MDRC and CCRC recently completed two experimental studies of multiple measures assessment (MMA). During the studies conducted at community colleges, the institutions use high school GPA and other measures in addition to placement test scores to assign incoming students to either developmental or college-level courses in math and English. Overall, results indicate that student outcomes improve under MMA as compared to status quo placement based on test scores alone.
- In fall 2020, Education Design Lab (EDL) announced the inaugural Community College Growth Engine Fund cohort, which included six selected institutions. The colleges have worked to implement a “micro-pathways” project that connects low-wage and unemployed workers to work-relevant credentials, leading to quality job opportunities. A new brief from EDL highlights key elements for the initiative’s three main stakeholders: learners, employers and colleges. For example, learners need practical pathways with a clear return on investment, flexible micro-pathways that meet them where they are, and deeper and more extensive work-based learning.