California: Graduate More Students or Lose Funding

California’s politicians and educators are getting serious about how to solve an immense and vexing problem — the graduation rate at the community colleges.

Until now, nothing has worked — indeed, the graduation rate slipped 1% over the past decade. Shockingly, research shows that 70% of California’s 2.1 million community college students neither earn a two-year associate degree nor transfer to a four-year school in six years.

Historically, funding for the state’s 114 community colleges was based on enrollment. But starting this fall, 40% of the state dollars a college receives will depend on whether the institution improves student outcomes and how well it serves poor students. This threat of what would amount to a massive budget cut for schools that make little progress will oblige every community college to make students’ success a top priority.

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