Recent Blog Posts

Evaluation of Employer Engagement

Transformative Change_Full Circle Logo_FINALThe Transformative Change Initiative (TCI) and Skills for America’s Future at the Aspen Institute hosted an event focused on the evaluation of employer engagement under TAACCCT. The meeting was held September 16th and 17th in Washington, DC. Attendees included third-party evaluators for Round 1, Round 2, and Round 3 TAACCCT grants who shared information on the nature, extent, and challenges of employer engagement evaluation. Special guests were Mark Mitsui, Deputy Assistant Secretary, US Department of Education and Erika Liliedahl, Senior Evaluation Specialist, US Department of Labor. To learn more about this topic, download the annotated bibliography created by TCI for this event.

Annotated Bibliography: Evaluation of Employer Engagement

51_thumbnailMarianne Peacock is the Project Coordinator for the Transformative Change Initiative at OCCRL. She can be reached at

Minnesota develops automatic reporting process to further refine reverse transfer degree eligibility

OCCRL asked Rochelle Ament to share MnSCU’s new strategy to automate part of the reverse transfer process.

An automated process to identify the most eligible students for a reverse transfer Associate in Arts degree is one of Minnesota’s greatest successes since joining the Credit When It’s Due project.

As Minnesota embarked on the process of developing and implementing a state-wide reverse transfer process, it was clear early on that one major challenge would be determining which students could satisfy the requirements for an Associate in Arts degree through reverse transfer. Although Minnesota benefits from having shared transcript and degree auditing platforms among the 37 colleges and universities in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System (MnSCU), pin-pointing which students to target for reverse transfer was not simple.

12In the early stages of implementation, degree audits were conducted for students who met minimum residency requirements (12 credits in Minnesota) at one of the participating community colleges. The wide parameters for degree auditing eligibility resulted in MnSCU staff manually auditing nearly 12,000 student transcripts, many of whom were far from degree-eligibility. Continuing reverse transfer efforts under this model would result in about 2,400 manual degree audits annually, a process that is not sustainable. The amount of time and effort necessary for conducting these audits drove Minnesota to develop a more automated process for determining degree auditing eligibility.

Here’s how the process works:

  • Every institution within the MnSCU system recognizes the completion of the same 40-credit general education package, known as the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC). This general education package is a component of all Associate in Arts and Bachelor’s degrees within MnSCU. In order to narrow the number of students who receive a manual degree audit and to identify those who are most likely eligible for an Associate in Arts degree, an end-of-semester report was designed to identify those students who have completed the MnTC.
  • As an additional benefit, the process results in automatic and highlighted notation of completion of the MnTC on students’ transcripts.
  • Going forward, MnSCU staff will use this notation, in conjunction with institutional residency (12) and minimum degree credit requirements (60), to audit only the likeliest possible candidates for degree conferral.

Using the automated process, which is scheduled to launch at the end of fall 2014, the number of students to manually review for reverse transfer will be smaller and more manageable. Time and effort saved as a result of the more automated process will aid in the sustainability of reverse transfer efforts in Minnesota. Minnesota’s participation in the Credit When It’s Due project has allowed for the implementation of several simple, but overlooked process improvements. The automated recognition of the completion of the general education package will make the milestone more visible for students and provide them with the important recognition in the path to their long-term goals.

Since MnSCU began reverse transfer efforts in the summer of 2013, 928 Associate in Arts degrees have been conferred through the state’s reverse transfer process.


Rochelle Ament is the Credit When It’s Due Project Manager for the Minnesota State College and University System. Minnesota’s CWID grant is funded by the Lumina Foundation.

Results from Illinois Dual Credit Funding Survey

dual_creditPolicymakers and consumers are laser-focused on affordable college completion, and dual credit is one pathway for students to accelerate their progress toward college completion in a potentially affordable way. A new survey of the Illinois Community College system shows that dual credit funding policies vary widely among community colleges. Illinois’ policy essentially leaves dual credit funding and finance decisions to local decision-makers, resulting in many colleges offering dual credit at little or no cost, but others charging students partial or even full tuition. Here are a few data points from the survey:

  • Tuition for a 3-credit hour dual credit course ranges from $0-$410 among Illinois community colleges
  • 50% of colleges reported that their community college charges tuition and/or fees for dual credit courses
  • 61% of colleges reported that students are responsible for paying for books and course materials for dual credit courses
  • One quarter of colleges reported that the college has arrangements with partner high schools that involve the transaction of funding among the two sectors (e.g., high school pays college application fee, college pays high school instructor stipends, etc.)

Ironically, respondents from colleges charging dual credit tuition reported greater concerns about the cost of dual credit tuition for low-income students than those colleges that subsidize dual credit tuition. These results offer insights into the financing of dual credit among community colleges in Illinois that will be the focus of conversation among state and local decision-makers.  The variance in funding policies surfaces inequities for high school students who, depending on the community college district in which their high school is located, may or may not have access to affordable college courses.

We encourage you to share your knowledge of dual credit financing policy.  Do these policies vary in your region or in your state?  What are your thoughts about policy variation within a state?  What recommendations do you have to ensure dual credit is affordable and accessible to all learners?

Jason L. Taylor is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Utah and a Faculty Affiliate at OCCRL.



Debra Bragg, OCCRL director and endowed 1professor at Illinois, researches the transition to college by youth and adults, especially student populations that have not attended college historically.

Illinois Institutional Research, Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment Professionals

Air photoIf you’re not already a member, please consider joining the Illinois Association of Institutional Research (IAIR). IAIR has been your statewide institutional research professional group since 1982. IAIR membership benefits are designed to enhance the discussion of research and evaluation at all Illinois institutions of higher ed by providing opportunities to learn and collaborate with colleagues, as well as to provide a variety of avenues for professional development in the field.

Those membership benefits, designed to achieve the goals mentioned above, include:

  • The annual IAIR forum allows researchers from across the state the opportunity to share important work that they’ve done and collaborate with colleagues.

    Interested in attending this year’s forum? Start your 2014-2015 IAIR membership off right by joining the fun and festivities of the 2014 IAIR forum this October 23rd and 24th in Naperville, IL. You can register online here.

  • IAIR e-newsletters distributed throughout the year sharing important information and deadlines.
  • Other opportunities to connect with colleagues from other institutions through the association’s membership directory and/or by joining the IAIR Facebook page. There are also a number of opportunities to support the organization by participating as an IAIR officer or committee member.
  • Annual recognition awards for members who have made significant contributions to thefield of institutional research in Illinois.
  • Membership is affordable! Membership dues are only $20/year. If you attend the annual IAIR forum, there are no additional membership dues. They’re already included as part of your forum registration fee.
  • Look for the new and improved IAIR website (currently under development) to be unveiled soon, as it will become the central “hub” for all IAIR-related information.

If you’re not currently a member of IAIR and wanted to connect with your research colleagues from across the state and take advantage of the many benefits of being an IAIR member, please take a moment to either complete the membership application or register for the 2014 IAIR forum (remember that IAIR membership is included). You can do either at the link below:

Register to become IAIR member or to attend 2014 forum


Mr. Rudden has served as the Director of Institutional Research at Elgin Community College since 2008. Prior to that, he was a Research Analyst and then Manager of Research and Assessment at Oakton Community College. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University, and an M.A. in Developmental Psychology from Illinois State University. He has also served as an adjunct instructor at Loyola University of Chicago, Triton Community College, College of Lake County, and Elgin Community College.




ASHE Reader on Community Colleges, 4th edition available

ashe readerThe ASHE Reader on Community Colleges serves as the seminal collection of Readers providing sound, wide-ranging, sought after works exploring the multitude of facets of two-year colleges. The Community College Reader has been a central resource and primary text in graduate programs countrywide offering courses and programs in community college leadership and higher education administration. In the years since the publication of the third edition in 2006, there have been numerous advances in leadership approaches, theoretical and conceptual frameworks, and empirical studies regarding community colleges, their constituents, and related outcomes.

The body of research produced during the release of the current edition is vast and rich. The corpus of extant literature available in the fourth edition provides readers with a compendium of works that underscore the historical significance and contemporary importance of American community colleges. This collection blends theory and practice in describing the status, scope and effectiveness of services, programs, policies, and best practices in community college education that appeal to practitioners, intellectuals and scholars-in-training. The fourth edition continues the tradition of prior Readers to include historical antecedents, classical models, and traditional frameworks germane to community colleges. In addition, this edition will maintain the custom of including research that seamlessly weaves the classics and foundations while offering contemporary synthesis of the two-year collegiate context.

The fourth edition of the ASHE Reader on Community Colleges contains a plethora of works that illuminate historical foundations, theoretical perspectives, institutional diversity, campus climate, organization, administrative leadership, and finance. In addition, the community college faculty and students, career-technical education, workforce education, remediation, transfer, globalization, technology, and policy issues. In sum, the fourth edition of the ASHE Reader on Community Colleges is a valuable resource for scholars, practitioners, policymakers, and who study American higher education, especially two-year institutions of higher learning.


Eboni Zamani-Gallaher is a Professor in the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership College of Education at Illinois and Co-Principal Investigator on the Illinois Community College Board grant at OCCRL. Her research centers on access and collegiate experiences of marginalized students at two- and four-year institutions of higher education.