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Test Drive: Six States Pilot Better Ways to Measure and Compare Community College Performance

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Increasing demand for at least some postsecondary education in today’s labor market has met with stagnating college completion rates. As a result, states have a growing interest in better understanding the challenges to improving graduation rates and in tracking student progress and success. Six states in the Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count initiative have designed and tested a more complete and accurate way of measuring community college student performance and success. Test Drive describes this new approach and compares it to the current federal system, highlights key findings from the pilot testing process and the links between state policies and the varying state results, and identifies the group’s priorities for further refining the new measures and related benchmarks.

The ultimate goal is to design a set of measures that accurately describe and track the multiple successful outcomes that community college students attain and to identify the warning signs of struggling students early enough in their educational careers to help keep them on track. This richer set of measures will help colleges tell a more complete and true story of their students’ educational progress and help them identify stumbling blocks in the road and ultimately improve progress and outcomes.