Advancing Adults Into Community Colleges: Data Tools from Breaking Through

Advancing Adults Into Community Colleges: Data Tools from Breaking Through

Jobs for the Future and National Council for Workforce Education, 2008

Toolkit Purpose 

Advancing Adults into Community Colleges provides support to community colleges interested in restructuring their programs to create clear pathways for low-skilled adults to enter professional and technical certificate and degree programs. In particular, the authors of this guide visited 25 community colleges across the country and identified incompatible and insufficient data as a significant internal hurdle that needed to be overcome before these colleges could manage their programs effectively and evaluate the effectiveness of their programs in moving students to higher levels of skills and achievement. Advancing Adults into Community Colleges provides guidance in areas central to improving data tracking in order to help community colleges determine whether they are meeting their goals and to help them find new ways to build accountability systems into their programs.

Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, North Carolina Glaxo-SmithKline Foundation, and Ford Foundation
Intended Audience 
Though this guide was specifically created for community colleges involved in the Breaking Through Initiative, this guide can be used by practitioners and staff at community colleges and other adult-centered programs, as well as any college seeking to track outcomes for pre-college students.
Career Pathways Target Population 
Adults who have reading and math skills testing below the eighth-grade level
Based On 
The national Breaking Through initiative originated in research funded by the Mott Foundation in 2004, where researchers identified and documented strategies being utilized by colleges across the country to engage and support lower-skilled adults. During the demonstration phase from 2005 to 2008, 35 colleges across 18 States conducted demonstration projects based on these strategies. In the documentation and expansion phase from 2008 to 2009, the initiative worked with 41 colleges in 22 States to catalogue approaches used by different institutions.
Summary of Toolkit Approach 

Advancing Adults into Community Colleges primarily consists of a "Campus Data Toolkit" that acquaints programs with the key processes and principles of quantitative analysis. The Data Toolkit has four main sections. The first distinguishes among several different types of student data that are useful for different purposes. The second addresses the need for, and possible ways to organize, a project management database. The third reviews various ways to collect data, concentrating on the need to collect data about interventions and treatments that are not captured through the college's regular registration records system. The final section examines ways to manipulate and analyze data to monitor student progress. In addition, the guide contains appendices in a "Common Core of Data Elements" section that can provide institutions with the minimal set of data elements they should collect to support effective tracking of outcomes and program evaluation.

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