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And Now for Some Good News: Trends in Student Retention at Community Colleges, 2004–2017

David B. Monaghan () and Olivia K. Sommers
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David B. Monaghan: Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
Olivia K. Sommers: Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania

Research in Higher Education, 2022, vol. 63, issue 3, No 3, 425-452

Abstract: Abstract Community colleges have been under pressure for years to improve retention rates. Considering well-publicized reductions in state funding during and after the Great Recession, progress in this area is unexpected. And yet this is precisely what we find. Using the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we find an average increase in retention of nearly 5 percentage points, or 9 percent, across the sector from 2004 to 2017. Over 70% of institutions posted retention gains, and average improvement occurred yearly over the period excepting a reversal at the height of the Great Recession. Gains were smaller on average at schools with higher tuition and that serve more disadvantaged populations, and larger at institutions with lower student-faculty ratios and higher per-student instructional spending. Fixed-effects regression and Oaxaca decomposition analyses demonstrate that these gains were not caused by observable changes in student body composition or in institutional characteristics such as increased per-student instructional spending.

Keywords: Community colleges; Retention; Panel data (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1007/s11162-021-09656-6

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