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Student Success

Program Aims to Propel CC Graduation Rates

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A new program from MDRC is gaining a tailwind as it pursues helping more low-income students and students of color graduate from community college within three years. "Scaling Up Community College Efforts for Student Success" or SUCCESS, as it's called, combines elements from other programs that have shown evidence of value.

These include:

  • Using coaches for frequent proactive meetings and advising;
  • Making financial incentives that are tied to active student participation in the program;
  • Increasing academic momentum by promoting full-time enrollment or summer and winter enrollment, leading to students earning at least 24 credits each year;
  • Tapping into data to uncover areas for improvement; and
  • Tying in the use of existing resources to make the programs financially sustainable and scalable to larger numbers of students and colleges by aligning them with state initiatives, connected to the use of guided pathways, college affordability and equity efforts.

So far, the program has begun working with nine colleges, including three in California, three in Indiana, two in New Jersey and one in Ohio. However, MDRC, a nonprofit organization that has committed to "finding solutions to some of the most difficult problems facing the nation," expects to add additional schools for the 2020-2021 academic year. For each of the participating institutions, the state's community college system is also considered a partner in the program.

MDRC reported that it expects to conduct separate studies on implementation, impact and cost-effectiveness and evaluate the effectiveness of SUCCESS on student success such as persistence in college, credit accumulation and graduation. Early findings will be released in 2021.

Additional information is available on the MDRC SUCCESS website. Interested schools and departments of education may reach out to Project Director Colleen Sommo.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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