Building Guided Pathways to Community College Student Success: Promising Practices and Early Evidence From Tennessee
Among state community college systems, the 13 community colleges under the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) are probably the furthest along in implementing guided pathways reforms. All 13 colleges are implementing what they call “Tennessee completion practices”—reforms to help students choose, enter, navigate, and complete programs that prepare them for further education and careers.
This report describes how the colleges are operationalizing the Tennessee completion practices in their own contexts, as well as how trends in leading indicators of student completion have changed since the reforms began. Drawing on colleges’ detailed self-assessments of their progress and telephone interviews with college administrators, staff, and faculty, the authors discuss how far along the colleges are in implementing completion practices in each of the four major areas of guided pathways reforms:
1. mapping pathways to student end goals,
2. helping students choose and enter a program pathway,
3. keeping students on path, and
4. ensuring that students are learning.
They then examine promising trends in first-year momentum among entering students, with a focus on students’ accumulation of college credits and completion of gateway college math and English courses in their first year. In addition to looking at overall improvements in early momentum metrics, the authors review the extent to which the colleges have made progress in closing equity gaps by race/ethnicity and age.
The report concludes with a consideration of critical next frontiers for the Tennessee community colleges, along with future directions for CCRC’s continuing research partnership with TBR and the Tennessee community colleges.
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