Longitudinal Study of Community College Students Released by IERC

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The Illinois Education Research Council (IERC) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville released a research report today that describes the diverse and potentially overlapping range of outcomes for community college students. Outcomes examined include transferring to a four-year college, earning an associate degree, or earning a certificate while taking into consideration the differences in college readiness.

The Illinois Education Research Council (IERC) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville released a research report today that describes the diverse and potentially overlapping range of outcomes for community college students.

Outcomes examined include transferring to a four-year college, earning an associate degree, or earning a certificate while taking into consideration the differences in college readiness.

“Since community colleges have open enrollment and comprehensive missions, we thought it would be beneficial to explore the community college outcomes across different college readiness levels,” said Eric Lichtenberger, IERC Associate Director of Research and the author of the report.

The study focuses on 26,513 members of the high school graduates who enrolled at a community college during the fall semester of 2003 and tracks their postsecondary outcomes through the end of the spring semester of 2010.

“In looking at the overlap between the outcomes, we were able to determine which groups of students might be at risk of leaving college without any degree or credential,” Lichtenberger said.

Findings from the report indicate that community college entrants were less ready for college than other high school graduates, as measured by ACT’s college readiness benchmarks in English, math, reading and science. It also concluded a sizable portion of community college entrants was well-prepared to make the postsecondary transition, noting that one in five had met three or more of the benchmarks.

The IERC further reported that associate degree attainment ranged from 42% for those meeting all of the benchmarks to 20% for those missing all of the benchmarks, while transfer rates ranged from 64% for those meeting all of the benchmarks to 29% for those missing all of the benchmarks.

“The better prepared community college entrants were overwhelmingly successful in terms of outcome attainment and many transitioned to a four-year college after earning a credential,” Lichtenberger said.

This is part one of a two-part series of research reports that focus on the college outcomes of community college students. Part two will look at bachelor’s degree completion among the students who transfer to a four-year college. For more information visit http://www.siue.edu/ierc/ or contact Lichtenberger, (618) 650-2840 or (866) 799-4372.

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Bethany Behrhorst
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
618-401-1691
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