Year of Publication

2008

College

Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Executive Summary

Problem Statement

Since its creation in 1997, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) has excelled in many areas of its open enrollment or open access mission. Yet, many KCTCS students do not persist to graduate with a credential or transfer to a 4-year postsecondary institution. The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), reports that of the fall 2001 students who entered KCTCS colleges, only 50.2 percent earned a degree, transferred to a 4-year college or university, or were still enrolled in a KCTCS college within three years. CPE further reports that more than half of Kentucky’s 2004 entering postsecondary freshmen were underprepared in at least one subject. The majority of these students enrolled in one of 16 colleges comprising KCTCS. When all KCTCS first-time, 2004 credential seeking freshmen are included (such as adult learners), 82 percent of students entering KCTCS colleges required developmental education at an estimated cost of more than $15.6 million. It is estimated that Kentucky’s General Fund costs for remediation instruction during the 2004-05 academic year totaled over $13.2 million dollars.

Research Strategy

Using a multinomial logit analysis, the paper focuses on identifying statistically significant variables that affect the conditional probability of KCTCS students succeeding. The study sample includes 10,007 first-time KCTCS students entering fall 2001 and examines the affect that 13 predictor variables have on the odds of KCTCS students achieving one of four success outcomes relative to not achieving success. Defining success as credential attainment (earning an associate degree, certificate, or diploma) or transfer to a 4-year institution, the following questions guide the research:

  • Does a student’s ACT score increase the likelihood of success?
  • Is a student’s first semester GPA a significant predictor of student success?
  • How likely are nontraditional students to succeed?
  • Are students who are offered Pell Grants less likely to succeed than students who do not receive such aid?

Major Findings

The analysis suggests that age, race, GPA achieved during the student’s first semester, and ACT test scores are statistically significant predictors influencing the odds of student success across the four success outcomes. Although statistically insignificant for the three KCTCS outcomes related to earning a credential, eligibility for Pell Grant aid is statistically significant for transfer success. The study found that being Pell Grant eligible decreased the odds of KCTCS students transferring to 4-year colleges and universities relative to not transferring.

Recommendations

It is recommended that KCTCS expand services for adult students and that more emphasis be placed on student success during the first semester of enrollment. It is further recommended that policymakers use the findings when considering program specific admission requirements, and the study the usefulness of the ACT test for evaluating remedial status of students pursuing occupational/technical credentials. A statewide, robust study of transfer to occur with special emphasis on developing strategies to ensure low income students’ ability to finance the second half of a baccalaureate degree. To keep costs for transfer students as low as possible, universities should exam their course transfer criteria and be more accepting of KCTCS coursework.

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