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As community colleges are increasingly called upon to deliver more with less, external service providers can help them build new capacities, overcome critical barriers to student completion, increase efficiency, and improve outcomes. Funders, providers, colleges, policymakers, and intermediaries can each play distinct but reinforcing roles to help build a competitive services market rooted in what works and driven by demand for services that drive student success.

Top Takeaways

  1. Community colleges most need support from service providers in four key areas: long-term planning for ways to redesign institutions to drive completion, use of data to improve results, student services and structures that support completion, and faculty development to improve the quality of classroom instruction.
  2. The community college service market is underdeveloped due both to limited confidence in the quality, depth, and cost-effectiveness of services, and to insufficient funding and policy incentives for providers to create new services or colleges to purchase them.
  3. Building a market that increases completion will require multiple actors to take steps to improve demand and supply and ensure adequate funding and incentives.
As the nation shifts from a focus on college access to student completion, community colleges are being called on to do more. Meeting this challenge will require help.