Recent Blog Posts

New Brief: Low-Income Student Success and Intersecting Identities

Figure 3OCCRL is pleased to announce the release of Volume 12 of its Insights on Equity and Outcomes series. Digging Deeper: Low-Income Students’ Intersecting Identities, funded by the Illinois Community College Board and written by Edmund Graham and Heather McCambly, provides an overview of research into low-income students’ experiences on community college campuses, and a look at the issues faced by low-income students from the perspective of the varied experiences represented within this large population. This brief is designed to help community college educators think about solutions for low-income students from the perspective of policy and practice by providing a general portrait of low-income students, along with examples of their intersecting identities (e.g., race, gender, ability, age) that influence the student experience. The authors suggest that understanding the complexity of intersectionality can help community college educators to better serve students who are low income.

headshot HMHeather McCambly, M.A., is the Project Coordinator for the Pathways to Results and Finish Up Illinois initiatives at the Office of Community College Research and Leadership. Her research has centered on the equity implications of performance based budgeting and funding systems, intersectional identity and student success, and equity-centered change on the community college campus.

Accelerating Pathways to College: The In(Equitable) Effects of Community College Dual Credit

I’ve previously written about dual credit/dual enrollment in regard to my work with OCCRL’s Dual Credit Funding Models study and the New Directions for Community Colleges volume on dual enrollment policies. My most recent article highlights key findings on dual credit from my dissertation, Accelerating Pathways to College: The (In)Equitable Effects of Community College Dual Credit. In Illinois, dual credit refers to college courses taken by high school students that are administratively facilitated between a college and a high school. In this article, I examined the effect of dual credit policies on students’ likelihood of enrolling in college and completing college. In particular, I examined how these outcomes vary for students of color and low-income students, because, as I argue in the article, it is critical that policies not only have a cumulative positive effect but also have positive effects for students historically underserved and underrepresented in higher education.

So what do the rshutterstock_77612251esults show? Using propensity score matching, a quasi-experimental design, I found that students who participate in dual credit are 34% more likely to enroll in college and 22% more likely to complete college compared to similar students who did not participate in dual credit. I found similar effects for sub-samples of low-income students and students of color. However, I found a 4- to 8-percentage-point gap in the probability of enrolling in college and completing college between the average effect and the effect for students of color and low-income students. In other words, although all students benefit from dual credit policies, the benefits are not equally distributed, and thus existing policies are not equitable.

So what are the implications of these results? First, they support several other studies in other state contexts that find dual credit and dual enrollment programs have a positive effect on important college outcomes such as college enrollment and completion. More importantly, they point to concerning inequities and raise questions about how state dual credit policies and local programs might better support low-income students and students of color as they transition to college. There are several examples of local programs, such as Early and Middle College High School programs, and state policies, such as Michigan’s Enhanced Dual Enrollment program, that not only enroll students in a college course but also provide more comprehensive support structures to facilitate students’ transition to and success in college, particularly for underserved populations.

Please share how your local dual credit programs are designed to support the success of low-income students and students of color!

Jason L. Taylor is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Utah. He received his PhD in higher education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a research specialization in evaluation methods and concentration in public policy. His broad research interests are at the intersection of community college and higher education policy and educational and social inequality. Dr. Taylor has conducted and led several quantitative and mixed methods studies related to college readiness, developmental education, adult pathways to college, dual credit/enrollment and early college experiences, transfer policy and reverse transfer, LGBTQ students and educational access and equity. He is currently the Co-PI with Dr. Debra Bragg and co-leading the research agenda for the Credit When It’s Due initiative, a 15-state effort to develop and implement reverse transfer programs and policies.

TCI Leadership Program Announcement: Designing and Scaling Solutions for the Transition from TAACCCT Programs of Study to Employment

The Transformative Change Initiative (TCI) is welcoming applications from Rounds 2 and 3 U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) consortium grantees to participate in a highly selective, short-term TCI Leadership Program. The focus of the new TCI Leadership Program is on designing and scaling solutions for the successful transition of TAACCCT participants from the completion of programs of study/education to employment, a persistent challenge for TAACCCT grantees.Transformative Change_Full Circle Logo_FINAL

To tackle this pressing issue and build the capacity of TAACCCT leaders and their institutions in a new and innovative way, the TCI Leadership Program will leverage behavioral science best practices to help TAACCCT leaders create institutional solutions that address this critical transition point for students. Decades of academic research in behavioral economics and psychology provide new insights about how to apply this knowledge to develop light-touch, low-cost interventions with outsized impact on human behaviors and outcomes. The TCI Leadership program will be implemented by ideas42 in partnership with the Collaboratory. Ideas42 is a non-profit leader that uses the power of behavioral science to design scalable solutions to some of society’s most difficult problems and brings deep knowledge and expertise in behavioral science to help design solutions that have impact to scale.  The TCI Leadership Program is generously supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The program will consist of two trainings and a coaching sequence that will be conducted over four months beginning in the fall. Rounds 2 and 3 of the TAACCCT consortium grantees, the lead college or member college of a consortium, are eligible to apply. Two representatives from 15 colleges will be chosen for the program. The deadline for application is August 10, 2015. Results from this leadership program will be disseminated in early 2016. For more details, please contact Michelle Fox at

Download the TCI Leadership Program application here.

Headshot_MichelleFox_Feb2014Michelle Fox
Director, TCI Leadership Program
The Collaboratory

From Theory to Practice: Student Development and Community College Outcomes

On Thursday  July 16, 2015 Morgan State University, the American College Personnel Administrators (ACPA) and National Council on Student Development (NCSD) co-sponsored a drive-in conference entitled “Theory to Practice to Outcomes: Connecting Student Development Theory to Community College Practice.” The day started with Dr. Lee Knefelkamp, Professor Emerita of Psychology and Education at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Professor Knefelkamp is the co-creator of the Practice-to-Theory-to-Practice Model used widely in psychology and higher education and Senior Fellow at AAC&U. She was followed by Dr. Deborah Garrett, President, Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) and Vice Chancellor for Student Services at Arkansas State University – Beebe. Deb Garrett has worked as an executive-level community college administrator for over 25 years and is a strong advocate for community colleges.acpa-logo

The purpose of the conference was to highlight the utility and benefits of student development theory when developing programs, services, policies, and engaging with individual students in the two-year context. Breakout sessions offered pragmatic connections between theory and practice within various functional areas in community colleges. There was a strong emphasis on connecting the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) in higher education to practice and their effective use in assessment and accreditation for community colleges.

We were exposed to the power of student development in changing individual student experience and student learning and a closing panel of SSAOs helped us make a direct connection between the use of student development and the outcomes-based completion agenda that is at the forefront of current community college reform. Other featured speakers included Dr. Mei-Yen Ireland, Dr. Ashley Babcock, Christopher Conzen, Dr. Case Willoughby, David Green, Marcus Peanort, Jennifer Blackwell, Ever Grier, as well as our panelists, Dr. Ron Smith, Denise McCory, Dr. Yancey Gulley, and Dr. Tyjuan Lee.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the day’s dialogue:

“Higher Education is in a revolution, a complete paradigm shift.”


“What is an adequate undergraduate education? Can we refute the false dichotomy of a college education vs. competencies? Employers want people who demonstrate the capacity for team work, people who can work with diversity, demonstrate leadership and decision making skills.  They want innovators.”


“We are losing our institutional memory on student development.  No one reads the original theory any more.  We need to return to that discipline and ensure that the translation we are making is accurate.”

It was a great day with colleagues, where I learned a lot and felt particularly challenged to sort out student learning outcomes from program outcomes. I think we sometimes confuse these in our haste to demonstrate success and our own “value” to the systems where we work. ACPA has a legacy of commitment to the holistic development of diverse learners that have been and continue to be underrepresented in higher education. Community colleges have been the tier of postsecondary education that enrolls vast numbers of underserved and marginalized populations. Until recent years, community colleges have been overlooked however ACPA has long recognized the importance of this tier of higher education. For over five decades, ACPA’s Commission for Two-Year Colleges is has promoted the improvement of student development programs; enhanced the professional development of student development personnel; and served as an advocate for student development programs at two-year institutions. As a former community college administrator, I understand how critical two-year institutions are the postsecondary landscape. I look forward to additional collaborations with community colleges, community college research centers and graduate preparation programs that advance student development and learning outcomes in community colleges as well as areas of practice that can be strengthened by the use of student development theory.

Cynthia Lovecindi-love is the Executive Director, Ex-Officio for ACPA – College Student Educators International

Creating Innovative, Next Generation Learning Environments

Seven Observations on how Education Leaders can Create Next Generation Learning Environments for College and Career Success
A Pathways Resource Center Webinar

August 3, 2015
9:30am – 10:30am

20150310_134825-300x225Dr. Richard Halverson, professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, shares information and strategies that will be useful for educational leaders as they create innovative, next generation learning environments that facilitate college and career success for all students. Participant will have opportunities for dialogue and to ask questions. To register click here.

IfeIfeyinwa (Ife) Onyenekwu serves as the Project Coordinator for the Pathways Resource Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Ife has research, administrative, and teaching experience at the university level and most recently served as Resident Director for University Housing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.