Date of this Version
Published in New Directions for Community Colleges, no. 175, Fall 2016, pp 5–8. doi 10.1002/cc.20207
National reform movements have placed considerable attention and pressure on community colleges to substantially and efficiently increase the number of students who earn degrees and certificates in the next decade (Harbour, 2015). The Completion Agenda, led largely by policy makers, professional organizations, and philanthropic foundations, is a national imperative and democratic obligation to increase completion rates, collect quality data regarding students’ pathways, and enact and improve policies that encourage and improve degree production. Though the aims of such an effort are welcome by community college practitioners and fit with these institutions’ long-standing missions of community responsiveness, some warn that without accompanying means to ensure high quality, the Completion Agenda threatens to detract from open access, exacerbate inequities, and narrow the community college mission around their credentialing function (Lester, 2014).
This volume of New Directions for Community Colleges presents a compendium of the latest research and practice regarding practices and programs that researchers have identified as promising in fostering positive community college student outcomes. Our volume explores the latest research on how student success program research is conceptualized and operationalized and offers evidence for ways in which programs foster positive student outcomes, including ways that outcomes are defined in the first place beyond persistence, transfer, and credential attainment. The issue also provides a critical inquiry of how students themselves experience practices and programs and discusses challenges surrounding program design, implementation and evaluation. The volume brings together perspectives from researchers and administrators representing centers and federally funded projects seeking to build knowledge around promising practices and programs in community colleges, including the Community College Research Center (CCRC), Achieving the Dream, the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) and the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.