Key Outcome #2: College Completion

Work in College Completion is focused on increasing the percentage of students who earn certificates and degrees to meet the state’s need for a highly educated citizenry and workforce. This includes removing barriers that slow students’ progress toward graduation, closing achievement gaps through programs for high-risk students and developing high-impact policies based on research and evidence.

Initiatives in College Completion

Achieving the Dream: Achieving the Dream is a national initiative that works to graduate more students from community colleges, focusing on data-driven strategies to close achievement gaps and accelerate success among low-income students and students of color.

Complete College America: Complete College America is a national nonprofit organization that works with states to significantly increase the number of Americans with quality career certificates or college degrees and close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations.

Completion Incentive Grant: The DHE is currently piloting the Completion Incentive Grant program, an initiative that awards grants to students who meet a threshold for credit completion and GPA each semester, maintain continuous enrollment and make use of campus support services.

Transforming Developmental (Remedial) Education: A task force convened by Higher Education Commissioner Richard M. Freeland reported in October 2013 that of the 11,000 community college students who took remedial math in fall 2010, 9,000 have yet to pass a credit-bearing math course. In Massachusetts, 60% of community college students, 22% of state university students, and 10% of UMass students take at least one remedial course, with the need for math remediation significantly outpacing that in writing and reading. Research indicates that students who are enrolled in remedial courses are much less likely to graduate from college.

In response to the Report from the Task Force on Transforming Developmental Math Education, the Board of Higher Education approved a series of pilot initiatives aimed at helping students advance more quickly to credit-bearing courses while obtaining the skills needed for college-level work. At the end of the 2014-2015 academic year, results will be reviewed and policies may be modified as necessary to help transform developmental education and ensure student success.

Transfer: When transfer students are denied credit for courses taken at their previous institutions, the time and cost of getting a degree increases, thus reducing the chance that they will ever graduate. The DHE and campuses are working together on several fronts to streamline the transfer process and ensure greater transferability of credits within the system: