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Transfer data | Community College Dean’s Recognitions

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Does your state do a good job (or require four-year schools to do a good job) of reporting to community colleges how well their students are doing in transferring to four-year schools?

I haven’t, and I don’t think it’s unusual. This is a missed opportunity.

In principle, it is not so difficult to do it. Colleges know who the transfer students are, and there is nothing new about counting and reporting the number of graduates by race and gender. This is standard procedure at this point.

A little deeper dive would be much more helpful. If they were broken down into majors or groups of majors, we would have a better chance of identifying strengths and weaknesses. Identifying weaknesses can help direct improvement efforts; identifying strengths can help refute arguments against accepting transfer credits. (Maybe that’s why the data isn’t always available.)

In the absence of systematic data, anecdotes rule by default. They are something, but subject to all kinds of prejudices. One memorable but distant incident can create a false impression that may not be disproved for years.

The assessment can also go the other way. If we find that a given receiving school has been particularly unwelcoming to female students and/or students of color coming from a community college, that should prompt serious discussions about what changes the receiving school should make. Again, right now we’re relying on anecdote if we have anything at all.

If the data included students who transferred to graduate school—which would be my preference—we could look at whether it’s beneficial to get an associate’s degree first.

Wise and worldly readers, if you were in a position to ask on behalf of a community college, what would you like to know?

Program Note: The blog will be taking a short break for Thanksgiving and will return on Monday, November 28th. As always, I am grateful to my wise and worldly readers for making this worthwhile. Happy Thanksgiving!

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