NVCC named a leader among community colleges
Completion rates are the bane of the community college. Even some of the most highly respected two-year colleges have degree attainment rates in the single digits. Many students go in; few come out. The majority become mired in remediation, or lose their way amid the pressures of family life and work.
So, the charts and graphs released this week by the nonprofit Achieving the Dream to plot the progress of Northern Virginia Community College stand out.
NVCC was cited Tuesday as one of seven Leader Colleges, for "demonstrating sustained improvement and accomplishments" in student achievement.
Remember those single-digit completion rates as you consider these stats:
The number of NVCC graduates has risen by about one-third since the 2005-06 academic year, from 2,928 that year to 3,978 in the 2009-10 academic year, according to college data.
Annual retention rates -- the share of students who return from one year to the next rather than drop out -- have risen from 44 percent in fall 2004 to 49 percent in fall 2008. For full-time students, retention is considerably higher.
The community college's official graduation rate -- the share of first-time, full-time students who graduate within three years -- remains a modest 13 percent, according to federal data. That's high for a community college, but low compared with most four-year colleges.
NVCC data show that 30 percent of students graduate within five years, and they project the rate to rise.
Community colleges are focusing on completion rates like never before, and their sector of higher education has come into focus since President Obama set a goal of regaining the world lead in college graduation by 2020.
The other Leader Colleges: Alamo Colleges in San Antonio, Texas; Brazosport College in Lake Jackson, Texas; Capital Community College in Hartford, Conn.; Martin Community College in Williamston, N.C.; Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, Penn.; and Yakima Valley Community College in Yakima, Wash.
The focus of Achieving the Dream is on creating a "culture of evidence" to identify problems that prevent students from graduating and potential solutions.
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Daniel de Vise
July 29, 2010; 5:00 PM ET
Categories: Administration , Attainment , Community Colleges , Public policy | Tags: Achieving the Dream, Northern Virginia Community College, community college completion, community colleges
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