Previous research shows that community colleges are not providing the supports necessary for students, especially low-income students, to complete their degrees and transfer to four-year institutions. The proposed study examines a crucial piece of what we need to know to determine the true cost of providing high-quality undergraduate instruction at two-year public community colleges. Kahlenberg will convene a working group of leading researchers and practitioners to establish the first framework for applying what is known about K-12 adequacy research to the community college sector. The members will draw on existing studies that have assessed the level of resources necessary to provide an “adequate” education at the K-12 level. The working group will also address whether providing an “adequate” education in community colleges involves greater costs for low-income students and for students, who are less academically prepared. The working group will commission three papers — a review of K-12 adequacy studies and research designs that could apply to the community college context, a review of the higher education adequacy research, and a paper on potential policy strategies for pursuing higher education adequacy funding. Outcomes will include student completion rates for certificate and degree programs and transfer rates to four-year institutions. The working group will draw on the commissioned papers to develop recommendations for an empirical community college cost study, linked to outcome goals.
What is the cost of providing high-quality undergraduate instruction at two-year public community colleges, particularly for low-income students?