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Evaluating Academic Programs in California’s Community Colleges

Summary

In Evaluating Academic Programs in California’s Community Colleges, Andrew M. Gill and Duane E. Leigh address three related questions. How do colleges differ in their academic program offerings? Do college-specific characteristics and community needs explain these differences? If so, can these explanations help policymakers design guidelines for evaluating community college performance? They find that although most community colleges are heavily engaged in offering credits that transfer to four-year colleges, over 40 percent specialize in one way or another. They also find that program emphases and specializations are associated with factors such as local labor market conditions, proximity to four-year institutions, and membership in a multi-campus district. Given the range of missions observed across campuses, the authors maintain that a “one-size-fits-all” strategy for evaluating community colleges may not be appropriate.

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