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This volume provides an updated examination of student tracking systems. It illustrates how policymakers, administrators, and institutional researchers are using data to follow student paths through postsecondary education and to measure student success.
The focus in student tracking today has shifted away from an examination of prospective students and students in academic difficulty, and toward an understanding of student progress through and beyond a single college or university. This new emphasis results from a variety of pressures: state and public calls for accountability, accreditation criteria that place greater attention on learning outcomes, recognition that enrollment does not ensure success, and an understanding that many students swirl through multiple institutions.
This is the 143rd volume of the Jossey-Bass higher education quarterly report series New Directions for Community Colleges. Essential to the professional libraries of presidents, vice presidents, deans, and other leaders in today's open-door institutions, New Directions for Community Colleges provides expert guidance in meeting the challenges of their distinctive and expanding educational mission.
EDITOR’S NOTES (Trudy H. Bers).
1. Using Transcripts in Analyses: Directions and Opportunities (Linda Serra Hagedorn, Anne M. Kress)
Practical lessons about how to do transcript analyses and to track student progress through transcript data are described in this chapter.
2. Retention Tracking Using Institutional Data (Fred Lillibridge)
In this chapter, the author explains a sophisticated approach for tracking student cohorts within an institution, from entry through departure.
3. Using Student Tracking Data from an Institutional Perspective (Joanne Bashford)
This chapter describes several examples of institutional use of state- and college-level tracking data to benchmark performance, improve student success, and enhance program effectiveness.
4. A Statewide Student Unit Record System: Florida as a Case Study (Jay Pfeiffer, Patricia Windham)
The chapter describes the evolution, content, and use of Florida’s unit record system, which includes K–16 and employment data. It includes examples of how information derived from tracking is used both for state-level policy making and institution-level research and practice.
5. The National Student Clearinghouse: The Largest Current Student Tracking Database (Craig Schoenecker, Richard Reeves)
The authors describe the National Student Clearinghouse, and opportunities and challenges for tracking community college students. They also offer system and institutional perspectives on using clearinghouse data to supply more comprehensive student and graduate tracking for reporting and accountability.
6. Tracking Low-Skill Adult Students Longitudinally: Using Research to Guide Policy and Practice (David Prince)
Important constituencies for community colleges, noncredit and workforce development students are often ignored when institutions track students and report on outcomes. The author explores how the state of Washington examines the progress, performance, and outcomes of noncredit and workforce development students and also notes special challenges in researching these populations.
7. Using State Student Unit Record Data to Increase Community College Student Success (Peter Ewell, Davis Jenkins)
This chapter builds on a recent eleven state audit of student unit systems and subsequent work describing such systems and their utility for policy makers.
8. Beyond Higher Education: Other Sources of Data for Tracking Students (David Stevens)
A variety of nationwide systems might be used for tracking students; one example is the federal Employment Data Exchange System, which offers access to a variety of resources.
9. Conclusion and the Future (Trudy H. Bers)
This brief concluding chapter presents final observations about tracking community college students.