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The Completion Agenda in Community Colleges

What It Is, Why It Matters, and Where It's Going

Chris Baldwin

This book is intended to improve understanding about the complex issues surrounding the national college completion agenda. By highlighting the origins of this agenda and the dilemmas and opportunities it creates for community colleges, The Completion Agenda in Community Colleges: What It Is, Why It Matters, And Where It’s Going describes the many innovations underway nationally. The book is an effort to bridge gaps between practice, policy, and research to provide the reader with a holistic view of community college response to the completion agenda. While this agenda is a positive development it also raises some critical questions. What is the appropriate balance between open access and ensuring more students earn a credential? What can policymakers do to incent innovation among institutions without jeopardizing the strengths of community colleges? In an era of constrained resources, how can colleges improve outcomes when so many students enroll academically unprepared? And perhaps most importantly, how can we collectively increase these outcomes while also ensuring that the credentials attained are high quality and with labor market value? « less more »
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers / Association of Community College Trustees
Pages: 154Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4758-0948-0 • Hardback • May 2017 • $52.00 • (£34.95)
978-1-4758-2068-3 • Paperback • May 2017 • $26.00 • (£17.95)
978-1-4758-0949-7 • eBook • May 2017 • $25.99 • (£17.95) (coming soon)
Dr. Christopher Baldwin has spent 15 years working at the national, state, and institutional levels to improved the outcomes of students in community colleges. He has played a leading role in several national initiatives designed to bring about institutional reform that will result in an increased number of community college students earning a credential with value in the labor market.
List of Tables

Rob Johnstone, President, National Center for Inquiry and Improvement


Prologue: Equity and Quality in an Era of Completion

1Confluence of Pressures

2Competing Logics for Community Colleges

3Presidential Perspectives on the Completion Agenda

4Emerging Consensus Embedded in Research, Policy and Practice

5Pitfalls and Potential of the Completion Agenda

6Forging a Path to a Sustained Completion Agenda

7Implications of the Completion Agenda for Equity and Quality: A Question of Resources


About the Author
Dr. Baldwin writes cogently about the many dimensions of the challenge of how best to improve graduation rates at community colleges without sacrificing quality or ignoring the needs of students with low-income or low levels of college readiness. This book is recommended reading for anyone who wants to chart where we’ve been with the completion agenda, and contemplate the opportunities ahead for better helping all community college students achieve their educational goals.
Caroline Altman Smith, Deputy Director Education, The Kresge Foundation

In The Completion Agenda in Community Colleges, Baldwin ably guides us through the last decade of completion reform offering cogent analysis and prescient insight for what needs to be done to maximize completion and promote equity at the same time. Essential reading for institutional practitioners and policy makers alike, but especially for those interested in the direction of community college completion reform.
Michael Collins, Vice President - Postsecondary State Policy, Jobs for the Future

As the college completion agenda reaches a new level of sophistication and promise, Baldwin insightfully steps in and asks higher education leaders to reflect on whether they have their eyes on the right prize. Pressures to improve student completion are converging on higher education--from state policymakers, foundations, employers, the federal government--that, if pursued uncritically, could easily lead to drawbacks and unintended consequences. Baldwin's work is an important correction, reminding higher education to chart a course to completion that refuses to compromise on so much that is held dear--particularly equitable outcomes for students historically underrepresented in postsecondary education, and the quality of the entire enterprise.
Lara Couturier, Director, HCM Strategists