Research Resources

Education

Community Colleges

This site provides information and resources on community colleges in five critical areas:

  1. Governance
  2. Funding
  3. Academic and Student Success
  4. Workforce and Economic Outcomes
  5. Additional Resources

Did you know the role of community colleges is changing?

By 2020, 58 percent of Nevada jobs will require some form of postsecondary degree, however, only 28 percent of Nevadans met this requirement as of 2011. During Nevada’s 77th legislative session policymakers passed Senate Bill 391 that resulted in an interim study on community college governance and funding in Nevada. As the Reauthorization of Higher Education Act nears, officials at the federal level are pushing for greater transparency and accountability of postsecondary institutions, including community colleges. These rising expectations on measures of efficiency and effectiveness will become a part of how community colleges are organized, governed and funded.

Why it matters?

As policymakers examine the changing role of community colleges it is imperative the public be aware of what is at stake and the societal and economic implications of policy changes to community colleges in Nevada. The resources on this site range from task force recommendations, policy center reports, peer reviewed articles, empirical studies and links to community college research centers. Additional resources will be added as they become available.

Governance

This site provides information and resources on community colleges in five critical areas:

  1. Governance
  2. Funding
  3. Academic and Student Success
  4. Workforce and Economic Outcomes
  5. Additional Resources

All postsecondary institutions have either an elected or appointed board of individuals designed to coordinate education planning, program approval and monitoring, and present budget and policy recommendations to state and federal policymakers. The following sources describe different ways of categorizing the organizational structures of these governance systems.

  • Amey, M. J., Jessup-Anger, E. & Jessup-Anger, J. (2008). Community college governance: What matters and why? New Directions for Community Colleges, 141, 5-14.
    These authors assert that community college governance provides critical leadership designed to either achieve institutional success or failure, especially during times of change. This article discusses significant factors that influence governance, such as local politics, public scrutiny, and community costs as well as the current rise in expectations of community colleges to meet demands and improve local and state economies throughout the country.
  • Bricker, L. (2008). Closing the gaps in Texas: The critical role of community colleges. New Directions for Community Colleges, 141, 57-65.
    In 2000, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board established an initiative to close the gap by 2015. This is a plan to increase college student enrollment, student persistence, and college reputation. Bricker highlight the ways in which governance played a role in this plan’s implementation. In Texas, community and junior college board members are locally elected and funding is provided through local tax bases, whereas, regents of public four-year institutions are appointed by the governor and funded by the state.
  • Potter, G. E. & Phelan, D. J. (2008). Governance over the years: A trustee's perspective. New Directions for Community Colleges, 141, 15-24.
    This article is a call for the use of Carver’s policy governance among board members of community and technical colleges. In this piece, authors discuss the historical context of community college governance as well as factors that contribute to various levels of effectiveness.
  • Education Commission of the States. State profiles: Postsecondary governance structures. Denver, Colo.: Education Commission of the States, 2007.
    The Postsecondary Governance Structures Database is a 2007 revision of the ECS 1997 State Postsecondary Structures Sourcebook. The database contains descriptions of state-level postsecondary education governance and coordination structures for all fifty states as well as links to related resources. The ECS web site also offers selected references and readings on governance such as a work by McGuinness (2003) that describes three models of postsecondary coordination and governance structures in the states within which community colleges are situated.
  • Lovell, C. D., and Trouth, C. (2006). State governance patterns for community colleges. In B. Townsend and D. Bragg (Eds.), ASHE Reader on Community Colleges Colleges. (3rd ed.) (91-100). Boston: Pearson Custom.
    The authors describe four state-level taxonomies of community college governance. In addition, they describe factors influencing statewide community college governance systems such as federal and state policies, board composition, articulation, and collective bargaining.
  • Kezar, A. J. & Eckel, P. D. (2004). Meeting today's governance challenges: A synthesis of the literature and examination of a future agenda for scholarship. The Journal of Higher Education, 75(4), 371-399.
    This article presents a summary of the literature, both empirical and theoretical, on governance in higher education. Following this summary, the authors identify themes that emerge from existing research on governance as well as issues that highlight those areas in governance that have not been studied.
  • Tollefson, T. A. (2000, April). Martorana’s legacy: Research on state systems of community colleges. Paper presented at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Council for the Study of Community Colleges, Washington, D.C.
    This paper describes community college state coordination and governance structures, mission evolution, state funding, and state control. Included near the end of this paper is a table of changes in state-level coordinating structures for public junior and community colleges between 1963 and 1999.
  • Community College Governance: A Timeline
  • Summary of Lincy College Governance Policy Brief

Did You Know?

Nevada’s public higher education governance has mostly not changed in its 148-year history.

According to the Education Commission of the States, Nevada is only one of a handful of states without a separate community college governance, coordination structure or local community college governance boards.

Funding

This site provides information and resources on community colleges in five critical areas:

  1. Governance
  2. Funding
  3. Academic and Student Success
  4. Workforce and Economic Outcomes
  5. Additional Resources

Community college boards are responsible for the resources, performance, and welfare of the institutions they govern. Effective governance aligns resource allocation policies and practices with state and local priorities for higher education. The following written pieces describe community college funding and equity.

  • Dowd, A. C. & Taing Shieh, L. (2013). Community college financing: Equity, efficiency, and accountability. The NEA 2013 Almanac of Higher Education.
    These authors take a critical look at community college funding based on performance standards, highlighting the negative consequences to vertical equity, particularly as it impacts marginalized students. Following this critique, these authors provide examples of alternative standards that are more favorable to equity in regards to financing post-secondary institutions.
  • The Century Foundation, Inc. (2013, May). Bridging the higher education divide: Strengthening community colleges and restoring the American dream. Task Force on Preventing Community Colleges from Becoming Separate and Unequal.
    This report provides an overview of the challenges facing community colleges, particularly focusing on the expectations of these institutions to do more with less. As a response, the task force identified two key recommendations which include the development of outcomes-based funding that meet the unique needs of students and strategies for narrowing the racial and economic gap between students at two-year and four-year institutions of higher education.
  • Quinterno, J. (2012, March). The great cost shift: How higher education cuts undermine the future for the middle class. Dēmos.
    This report assesses the impact of states providing less funding to post-secondary institutions even though student enrollment is increasing, particularly among those who require different, and sometimes, more resources. Consequently, the author claims that students and their families are expected to cover the costs of higher education which in turn threatens the ability to maintain or enter into a middle class status. This report offers several policy recommendations directed toward state leaders.
  • Education Commission of the States. (2000, November). State funding for community colleges: A 50-state survey (2010), education commission of the states. Center for Community College Policy.
    This report uses data collected from 45 states to compare state-level funding for community colleges. More specifically, the report identifies various factors that influence funding, including the decision makers and structures. Based on the results from this report, the authors highlight five emerging issues in community college finance.
  • Tollefson, T. A. (2009). Community college governance, funding, and accountability: A century of issues and trends. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 33 (3-4), 386-402.
    Based on existing literature, the author provides an historical and contemporary overview of community colleges, describing how they have evolved from locally-funded and controlled extensions of high schools to major institutions that are increasingly funded and controlled by states.
  • Mullin, C. M. & Honeyman, D. S. (2008). The funding of community colleges: Formulas & governance. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 37(7), 512-524.
    This article presents the results of a descriptive study of funding for community colleges, how funding was developed, and what entities govern this funding throughout the United States. Based on the study, these authors conclude that there is an increase in the number of community colleges funded through a funding formula. Among those that use funding formulas, there is also a rise in self-governance, which has created more opportunities for community colleges to align their missions with their resources.
  • Mullin, C. M., and Honeyman, D. S. (2007). The funding of community colleges: A typology of state funding formulas. Community College Review, 35(2),113–127.
    To provide a better understanding of the various ways community colleges are funded, these authors present a typology using funding-related data from 48 states. This typology included three categories: no formula, responsive formulas, and functional formulas. The authors then compared the categories, highlighting the benefits and drawbacks of each approach.
  • Kenton, C. P., Schuh, J. H., Huba, M. E., and Shelly, M. C. (2004). Funding models of community colleges in 10 Midwest states. Community College Review, 32(3),1–17.
    The authors describe four funding models in community colleges found in ten Midwest states between 1990 and 2000. They also compare these models to determine which resulted in more or less revenue by the end of 2000 and conclude by describing the implications of their findings.

Did You Know?

According to the American Association of Community Colleges in FY 2011 community colleges received approximately 16.8% of their funding from local funding.

Because of governance and funding structure, Nevada “community” colleges receive zero local funding and rely exclusively on state funding.

Academic and Student Success

This site provides information and resources on community colleges in five critical areas:

  1. Governance
  2. Funding
  3. Academic and Student Success
  4. Workforce and Economic Outcomes
  5. Additional Resources

Policymakers and community college leaders recognize the significance of academic and student success in the face of state budget cuts and increasing accountability at both the federal and state levels. The following address student success metrics, equity, and promising practices.

  • Shapiro, D., Dundar, A., Ziskin, M., Chiang, Y., Chen, J., Harrel, A., & Torres, V. (2013, July). Baccalaureate attainment: A national view of the postsecondary outcomes of students who transfer from two-year to four-year institutions. National Students Clearinghouse Research Center, Project on Academic Success, Indiana University.
    Using results from data on over 300,000 students, authors analyze the factors associated with transferring from a two-year college to a four-year institution and earning a bachelor’s degree. Findings are presented according to enrollment demographics and length of enrollment, the type of four-year transfer institution, and transfer gaps. Among the findings, the authors concluded that students who completed a two-year degree or certificate are more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than students who transfer before earning a credential.
  • The Century Foundation, Inc. (2013, May). Bridging the higher education divide: Strengthening community colleges and restoring the American dream. Task Force on Preventing Community Colleges from Becoming Separate and Unequal.
    This report provides an overview of the challenges facing community colleges, particularly focusing on the expectations of these institutions to do more with less. As a response, the task force identified two key recommendations which include the development of outcomes-based funding that meet the unique needs of students and strategies for narrowing the racial and economic gap between students at two-year and four-year institutions of higher education.
  • Xu, D. & Jaggars, S. S. (2013). The impact of online learning on students’ course outcomes: Evidence from a large community and technical college system. Economics of Education Review, 37, 46-57
    This article presents a quantitative comparison of online and face-to-face courses at 34 community and technical colleges. Among the findings, the authors discover that the distance from the campus was a major factor associated with enrolling in online courses and that those who take online courses are more likely to earn lower grades and stop attending college as compared to those who enroll in face to face courses.
  • Santiago, D. A. (2013). Supporting Latino community college students: An investment in our economic future. Excelencia in Education, Washington, DC.
    This report identifies specific policy recommendations at the federal, state, and institutional level to assist in the success of Latino community college students. The author bases their recommendations on the successful strategies adopted by two national organizations, Excelencia in Education and Single Stop USA, and select community colleges.
  • Center for Community College Student Engagement. (2012, Fall). A matter of degrees: Promising practices for community college student success (A first look). Austin, TX: The University of Texas at Austin, Community College Leadership Program
    This report is an initial analysis of data collected from four surveys. Based on the analysis, the report highlights 13 best practices for community colleges to increase and maintain high levels of student engagement, persistence, and completion.
  • Tschechtelin, J. D. (2011). Increased Enrollment + Student Success=Funding=?. New Directions for Community Colleges, 156, 49-59.
    The author highlights three trends in community colleges: (1) growing enrollment, (2) pressure to improve student success, and (3) decline of government support. In order for community colleges to maintain quality and serve students appropriately, the author presents specific recommendations in dealing with these trends, mostly focused on leadership and governance changes.
  • Kisker, C. B. (2007). Creating and sustaining community college-university transfer partnerships. Community College Review, 34 (4), 282-304.
    This piece is an overview of a case study of three community colleges in Southern California that maintained a partnership with a university through a federal grant. The author highlights several challenges associated with this partnership, focusing heavily on disagreements related to program management.
  • Brock, T. & LeBlanc, A. (2005, May). The opening doors demonstration: Promoting student success in community college and beyond. MDRC.
    This report provides the initial overview of a research study on six community colleges conducted between 2005 and 2009. The study assessed the impact of randomly assigned interventions. Results are expected to provide insight into successful practices and programs for community colleges.

Did You Know?

According to the Delta Cost Project, Nevada produces 13 completers for every 100 full time equivalent students in its two-year institutions. This is well below the nation average of 26.

Workforce and Economic Outcomes

This site provides information and resources on community colleges in five critical areas:

  1. Governance
  2. Funding
  3. Academic and Student Success
  4. Workforce and Economic Outcomes
  5. Additional Resources

Given the fact that community colleges play a critical role in regional economic development, they must align their priorities and resources to the needs of the regional workforce. By doing this, students will have increased access to meaningful training, degrees and jobs. The following pieces discuss economic alignment and returns for individuals and communities surrounding community colleges.

  • Gupta, S. (2013, April). 21st century career and technical education pathways: On the rise, the role of career and technical education in Arizona’s future. ASU: Morison Institute for Public Policy.
    This report analyzes data from two school districts in Arizona to determine the impact of Career and Technical Education (CTE). Findings suggest that classes related to CTE have a positive influence on graduation and completion rates. The author also identifies CTE best practices and presents recommendations for high quality CTE programs.
  • Devol, R. C., Shen, I., Bedroussian, A. & Zhang, N. (2013). A matter of degrees: The effect of educational attainment on regional economic policy. Milken Institute.
    This report presents an analysis of Census data from 1990, 2000, and 2010 and suggests that investment in higher education results in better economic advantages for regions. The authors highlight three key policy recommendations: make higher education more affordable and accessible; increase higher-education graduation rates; and strengthen coordination between industries and higher-education institutions.
  • Mullin, C. M., & Phillippe, K. (2013, January). Community college contributions. American Association of Community Colleges. Washington, DC.
    This brief uses research and provides a framework highlighting the benefits of community colleges to both public and private domains. The authors suggest that increased financial investments are necessary for a successful future workforce.
  • Rothwell, J. (2013, June). The hidden STEM economy, 2013. Brookings Institution. Washington, DC.
    This reports makes an argument for the redefinition of STEM workers to include those with qualifications outside of the typical bachelor's degree. The implications of a broader definition offers increased opportunities for community colleges and policymakers to identify funding for development aligned with the demand of the regional workforce.
  • Zaback, K., Carlson. A., & Crellin, M. (2012, December). The economic benefit of postsecondary degrees: A state and national level analysis. State Higher Education Executive Officers and National Center for Higher Education Management Systems.
    This report is an overview of the examination of two large data sets focusing on degree values in terms of income in different states by discipline.
  • American Association of Community Colleges. (2012). Reclaiming the American Dream: Community colleges and the nation’s future. A Report from the 21st–Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges. Washington, DC.
    This report uses the results of a large research project on community colleges nationally to make seven recommendations regarding institutional missions and support systems required to meet the needs of the local, state, and national communities.
  • Bailey, T. & Belfield, C. R. (2011, May). Community college occupational degrees: Are they worth it? Paper presented at Preparing Today’s Students for Tomorrow’s Jobs in Metropolitan America: The Policy, Practice, and Research Issues. University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education.
    The authors of this paper provide evidence on occupational higher education in the community college sector while highlighting patterns of market returns based on metropolitan characteristics and gender. The authors also provide policy recommendations in the context of the Great Recession.
  • Friedal, J. N. (2008). The effect of the community college workforce development mission on governance. New Directions for Community Colleges, 141, 45-55.
    The article described the results of a multi-site case study on the impact of changes in workforce development on the governance structures for community college systems in Kentucky and Iowa. The Midwest region went through troubling economic times, specifically the loss of manufacturing jobs and changes in farming policies in the early 1980s. Both states responded by positioning community colleges as a workforce development tool.

Did You Know?

A Brookings Institution report highlights that in southern Nevada, STEM related jobs that require an associate’s degree or less pay $59,238 on average versus non-STEM jobs that pay $32,313.

Additional Resources

This portion provides information and resources on community colleges in five critical areas:

  1. Governance
  2. Funding
  3. Academic and Student Success
  4. Workforce and Economic Outcomes
  5. Additional Resources

Nevada Specific Report

  • SRI International. (2012, August.) States’ methods of funding higher education. Report for the Nevada Legislature’s Committee to Study the Funding of Higher Education.
    In a report for the Nevada State Legislature, SRI evaluated how US states fund higher education and compared them to Nevada’s funding approaches.
  • Community Colleges Task Force. (2011, August). Fresh look at Nevada community colleges task force recommendations.Submitted to the Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor.
    This report identifies the role of community colleges in Nevada and provides recommendations aimed at aligning community colleges to Nevada's growing workforce needs.
  • Muro, M. (2011, November). Unify, regionalize, diversify: An economic development agenda for Nevada. Brookings Institution. Washington, DC.
    This paper uses the results of a five-month inquiry to determine the economic barriers and potentials in Nevada, with policy recommendations focused on industry development.
  • Charlton, P. (1996). A Study of Community College Funding. (Unpublished master professional paper). University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV.
    This paper presents a study on the relationship between community college governance and funding in 50 states. Findings suggest that funding levels are significantly associated with different levels of governance (i.e., local versus state).
  • Report to the Legislative Commission on the Study of the Community College Division for the University of Nevada System (1978, August). Prepared by Legislative Council Bureau, State of Nevada.
    This report makes the following finding: the legal basis exists to statutorily separate the community college division from the University of Nevada System; and the following recommendations: reinstate the president of the Community College Division; BOR should develop local or statewide advisory boards to solicit community input; and explore shared facility with other educational organizations.
  • State Plan for Community College in the State of Nevada (1971, January). Prepared by the Community College Division of the University of Nevada System and Adopted by the Board of Regents.
    This 1971 master plan for the development of Nevada community colleges identifies specific recommendations: the establishment of an open door policy; a grading policy designed to pass students, rather than to fail them; a goal of 60 percent of total student enrollment in occupational programs; a maximum size of 5,000 full-time equate students for any community college in the state.

Community College Research Centers

Community College Associations

Additional Relevant Links

  • Achieving the Dream
    Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide.
  • Brookings Institution
    The economic and political well-being of any society requires a well-educated citizenry. Brookings’s work has extended beyond the K-12 bookends to include preschool interventions, higher education and the challenges of education in developing countries. Experts are tackling fundamental issues on the role of education in the national and global economy.
  • Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University
    The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce is an independent, nonprofit research and policy institute affiliated with the Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy that studies the link between education, career qualifications, and workforce demands. The Center seeks to inform and educate federal, state, and local policymakers and stakeholders on ways to better align education and training with labor market demand and qualifications. It also seeks to create tools that enable decision makers to access and customize the data to allow for national, state, and sub-state analysis.
  • The Delta Cost Project
    Unlike other organizations in higher education, the Delta Cost Project is focused on the spending part of the college cost problem – how spending relates to access and success, and ways that costs can be controlled without compromising quality. This requires a change in traditional approaches to higher education finance – from a focus on inputs (enrollments) and efficiency measures (funding per student) – to an integrated view of productivity, and how funds are used to ensure access, equity, and successful learning results.
  • Education Commission of the States, Postsecondary Issues
    The Education Commission of the States helps policymakers develop effective policy and practice for public education by providing data, research, analysis, and leadership; and by facilitating collaboration, the exchange of ideas among the states, and long-range strategic thinking. Community colleges play vital roles in meeting student, community and employer/employee needs, serving as the point of access and providing choices to nearly one-half of the nation's postsecondary students. In July 1999, ECS established the Center for Community College Policy to serve as a focal point for a range of policy services for state policymakers. Among other activities, the center operates a web site that provides information on each state's community college system, as well as policy papers on emerging policy issues
  • National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS)
    The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) is a private nonprofit (501)(c)(3) organization whose mission is to improve strategic decision making in higher education for states and institutions in the United States and abroad.
  • State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO)
    SHEEO is the national association of state higher education leaders who serve statewide coordinating and governing boards and other state policy agencies for higher education. SHEEO serves its members as an advocate for state policy leadership, as a liaison between states and the federal government, as a vehicle for learning from and collaborating with peers, and as a source of information and analysis on educational and public policy issues.
  • Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)
    WICHE and its 16 member states and territories work collaboratively to expand educational access and excellence for all citizens of the West. By promoting innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy, WICHE strengthens higher education’s contributions to the region's social, economic, and civic life.
  • Committee to Conduct an Interim Study Concerning Community Colleges
  • Academics and Workforce Alignment
  • Governance and Funding