"Transforming Lives Through Quality Learning Experiences"


College Count$ Study Released
Published: April 07 2016

 

 

Contact: Collin Callaway, ccallaway@arkansascc.org or Nancy Meador, nrmeador@asub.edu

A new study titled College Count$ was just released and demonstrates

that low-income students who have participated in the Arkansas Career Pathways

Initiative (CPI) earn associate degrees or technical certificates at more than

double the rate of the general community college population in Arkansas. The

findings are especially significant considering that students who participate

in CPI must qualify for public assistance, live at 250 percent or less of the

poverty level and support a family as a custodial parent.

 

 

 

These findings

 

are the first phase of research from College Count$, a joint research project

established in April of 2015 by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Ford

Foundation and Annie E. Casey Foundation to demonstrate the potential for CPI

to break the cycle of poverty and provide a return on investment for

participants, their families and the state. The College Count$ study was

conducted by Metis Associates, a nationally recognized research firm. Research

methods used in the study all comply with the U.S. Department of Education’s

What Works Clearinghouse guidelines for evidence-based programs.

 

 

 

Since

 

its inception in 2006, CPI has worked with more than 30,000 students at 25

community college and university technical centers across the state. Fifty-two

percent of students who participated in the CPI program from 2006 to 2013 have

completed at least one associate degree or technical certificate, compared to

only 24 percent of general non-CPI community college students from across

Arkansas enrolled in those same academic years, according to statistics from

the Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE).

 

 

 

Additionally,

 

the College Count$ results show that CPI students outperform Community College

students nationally. According to National Student Clearinghouse Research

Center, 39 percent of students nationwide enrolled at a two-year public college

in 2008 completed an associate degree or certificate by 2014. In comparison, 62

percent of CPI students who enrolled at an Arkansas community college in 2008

completed at least one degree or certificate by 2013 – a rate more than 50

percent higher than the national average for the community college student body.

 

 

 

“The

 

Arkansas Career Pathways Initiative is a nonpartisan program that has generated

real returns for our state’s economy. It trains Arkansans for in-demand jobs,

and successfully moves individuals from welfare to work. Everyone wins with

this highly effective program,” said Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.

 

 

 

Arkansas State

 

University-Beebe has offered the grant-funded Career Pathways program for

approximately ten years. “We

are excited about the results of this study, results that demonstrate the program

is indeed benefitting our low-income students and their

families,” said Dr. Karla

Fisher, chancellor at ASU-Beebe. “Our students are the real benefactors of

this program, which mirrors the ASU-Beebe mission of ‘transforming

lives.’” Theda Neldon, Career Pathways Coordinator at

ASU-Searcy added “We have had the opportunity to see the student

success stories on a daily basis.”  

 

 

 

CPI’s

 

unique approach provides students with extensive personalized support

throughout their college experience – such as tutoring, mentoring, childcare

assistance or gas cards – to address the specific barriers that could otherwise

stand in the way of graduation. Students receive training for high demand jobs

in their communities, which greatly increases their chances of employment. To

maintain eligibility for CPI services, students must continue enrollment in job

training activities and communicate regularly with CPI staff.

 

 

 

In

 

addition to impressive academic achievements, CPI participants also experienced

a boost in wages. According to Unemployment Insurance Wage data across all

industries, the class of 2009 earned on average $2,562 more per year, the class

of 2010 $2,700, and the class 2011 $3,112 more in wages in the first twelve

months after exiting college than their matched comparison group from the TANF

population who did not participate in CPI.

 

 

 

“Increasing

 

prosperity, educational attainment and economic mobility for our most

vulnerable fellow citizens is at the heart of the mission of the Winthrop

Rockefeller Foundation,” said Sherece Y. West-Scantlebury, Ph.D., President and

CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. “As a nation and as a people we

must find ways to bridge the growing income gaps that have left so many of our

people behind. These findings leave little doubt that the Arkansas Career

Pathways Initiative has helped tens of thousands of very low-income parents be

successful in college and in finding good employment afterwards. This program

is transforming lives.”

 

 

 

CPI,

 

administered by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE) and the

state’s 22 community colleges and three university technical centers, has

provided education and training to more than 30,000 low-income Arkansans since

2006, helping them acquire degrees and/or certificates to obtain and hold jobs

in selected high-demand and high-wage industries. Funds for the program comes

from the federal Temporary Assistance for Need Families (TANF) appropriations

administered through the state Department of Workforce Services.

 

 

 

College

 

Count$ is currently seeking funding for the next phase of research to measure

the return on investment (ROI) to the state generated as a result of expanded

employment, increased tax revenues and a decline in the need for public

assistance. Researchers also want to explore whether success in educational

attainment contributes to improved economic mobility, and to further examine

which case management or financial supports provided to CPI participants seem

to be correlated to the greater educational success, particularly in relation

to success in remedial courses at the community college. The findings may have

significant impact on how community colleges can better improve completion

rates and ensure academic success for of all students.