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Estimating the Productivity of Community Colleges in Paving the Road to Four-Year College Success

Scott E. Carrell, Michal Kurlaender

Chapter in NBER book Productivity in Higher Education (2019), Caroline M. Hoxby and Kevin Stange, editors (p. 291 - 315)
Conference held May 31–June 1, 2016
Published in November 2019 by University of Chicago Press
© 2019 by the National Bureau of Economic Research

The distinct mission and open-access nature of community colleges and the diverse goals of the students they serve make it difficult to assess differences in quality across community college campuses. In this paper, we investigate institutional differences in both the extensive and intensive margin of the transfer function across California's 108 community college campuses. Importantly, due to the richness of our dataset, we are able to adjust our estimates for a host of observed student differences, including scores on 11th grade math and English standardized tests. Results show there is significant variation in community college quality for both the probability of transfer as well as outcomes measuring how well students perform after transferring. Additionally, we examine whether any observable characteristics of the community college are significantly correlated with transfer productivity.

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This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w22904, Estimating the Productivity of Community Colleges in Paving the Road to Four-Year Success, Scott E. Carrell, Michal Kurlaender
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